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Sept. 24, 2021

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Vancouver School Board names Camas superintendent Jeff Snell as next top administrator

Pending contract negotiations, Snell begins as VPS superintendent July 1

By , Columbian staff writer

The Vancouver Public Schools Board of Directors unanimously voted Wednesday night to appoint Camas schools Superintendent Jeff Snell as Vancouver Public Schools’ next top administrator.

Pending contract negotiations, Snell begins superintendent duties of Clark County’s second-largest school district and ninth-largest statewide July 1.

Snell was chosen after a nationwide search that began in late 2020 and drew 34 applicants to replace outgoing Superintendent Steve Webb. Snell spent the past 10 years in top-level district administration in the Camas School District, including serving as superintendent since 2016.

But Snell is no stranger to Vancouver Public Schools. He spent the first 15 years of his career in the district as a secondary classroom teacher, associate principal, and principal at McLoughlin Middle School and Fort Vancouver High School from 1996 to 2011. Twelve of those 15 years were at Fort Vancouver, between teaching and building administration.

Snell told The Columbian on Thursday his time in Vancouver helped shape him as an educator and created an eventual path to top-level district administration.

It starts by building relationships, he said.

“When you start your career as a first-year teacher somewhere, you learn so much from staff and families and students,” Snell said. “That never leaves you. Those relationships, they’re really important because they made me who I am. What’s important to me and how I try to lead and how I try to be an educator was really grounded in the halls of Fort and Mac.”

While Snell said he’s excited to return to lead the same district where he got his start in education, he also called leaving Camas bittersweet. Snell’s responsibilities will remain in Camas until he begins superintendent duties for Vancouver Public Schools. He said he’s already been in communication with Kathy Everidge, Vancouver Public Schools’ interim superintendent, about ways to contribute and support the district while making a smooth leadership transition.

Some of Snell’s top priorities, he said, begin by making connections. Stakeholder group feedback Snell received as a candidate included staff and community members wanting to see change, culture and collaboration by the next superintendent. Snell said while there’s a level of familiarity in Vancouver, he plans to come in with a fresh set of eyes and listen to students and staff about their experiences in what he calls an already strong foundation in the district.

“It’s really how do we help everyone be their best?” Snell said. “And how do we create ownership that we’re all in this together and that we have an opportunity to all grow together?”

Two weeks ago, the school board narrowed its search to four finalists with Snell and Othello School District Superintendent Kenneth “Chris” Hurst advancing to the top two. Both candidates had final, in-person interviews with board directors at Wednesday’s special meeting.

Board President Kyle Sproul said in a statement the first thing that sticks out about Snell is his empathy for others and passion for inclusion.

“When you add his past experience in Vancouver Public Schools,” Sproul said, “and his deep connection to our local community, it became clear that he was the best choice to lead our district in this next chapter.”

Snell holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s and doctorate from Washington State University. His wife, Suzie, is an elementary school counselor in Vancouver Public Schools. The couple have three children — twins Mackenzie and Stephen are students at the University of Washington, and Micah is a fifth-grader.