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News / Clark County News

‘I’m very proud of that work’: Mary Templeton to leave Washougal schools June 30

Superintendent takes top position with Lake Stevens School District

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: April 27, 2024, 6:10am

WASHOUGAL — After leading the Washougal School District through strikes, budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Mary Templeton is leaving.

Templeton has accepted the superintendent position in the Lake Stevens School District, about 10 miles east of Everett.

“It’s going to be hard to leave, because people have been good to me here,” Templeton said. “They have supported me. They’ve valued me. They’ve been honest with me. And they’ve shown up for me as a superintendent.”

Her last day in Washougal will be June 30.

“She has helped the Washougal community navigate a number of unprecedented challenges,” the school board said in a statement. “Through her steady leadership, our district has emerged from the pandemic with strong community support, committed staff, and a vision for a bright future for every student.”

Officials from the Lake Stevens district said in a statement that Templeton “brings a wealth of experience in educational leadership, having dedicated the past 30 years enhancing student achievement in both large and small school districts.”

Before coming to Washougal, Templeton taught German, English and drama; served as dean of students and assistant principal; and led the human resources department in Spokane Public Schools.

Templeton, who grew up in the Portland area and attended the University of Oregon, landed the Washougal superintendent position in 2018 and was immediately tasked with bringing an end to a teachers’ strike that delayed the start of the 2018-19 school year by several days.

She led Washougal schools through the COVID-19 pandemic, dealing with community members who were adamantly against public health measures that the state of Washington adopted to keep COVID at bay.

This year, Templeton has been working to shepherd the district through a $3 million budget shortfall.

“It’s been a very challenging sequence of events, but I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this district through them,” she said. “All of us, myself included, got the opportunity to grow in our capacity and model grit, humility, determination, compassion and innovation for the future.”

There were bright spots in her tenure, of course: Templeton was honored by the National Schools Public Relations Association in 2018 as a Superintendent to Watch.

But Templeton has been looking for a position closer to Seattle since 2022.

She told the Post-Record that she had applied for positions with the Kent and Issaquah school districts to be closer to her three adult children after her husband, Terry, died in 2021.

“The arc of my personal and professional lives clearly has put me on this new direction, and I’m super excited about that,” Templeton said.

In Lake Stevens, Templeton will oversee a $176 million budget, more than 9,400 students, 1,200 employees, 11 schools, and numerous special programs and partnerships.

She will succeed Ken Collins, who served the district in a variety of capacities for the past 34 years before announcing his retirement earlier this year.

Washougal school board members said in a news release that they are “proud of Templeton’s tenure in Washougal.”

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“Through the last six years, Mary has consistently focused on increasing student achievement and opportunities,” Washougal School District Board of Education President Angela Hancock said. “The board deeply appreciates her steady leadership throughout some of the most difficult years we have seen in public education.”

The board also highlighted Templeton’s efforts to develop Washougal’s 2025 strategic plan; invest in teacher training and reboot the district’s Professional Learning Community “collaboration time” periods; champion its career and technical education program; elevate student voices; strengthen relationships with community organizations; and implement a scratch-made meal program.

Templeton said she achieved all of the major benchmarks that the Washougal school board set for her when she was hired — being visible in the community, developing productive relationships with the district’s labor partners and staff members, aspiring to a high level of achievement, and leading the district to become a top performer in the state of Washington.

“I came into this district with a vision, and I believe that vision has been realized,” Templeton said. “I believe that over the last six years, I hit the mark on those requests from this community via the board that hired me six years ago, and I’m very proud of that work.”