Among the nearly 80 recently hired staff members are two principals: Brenda Naish at Moorlands Elementary and Cathi Hackett at Kokanee Elementary.
Naish hails from the Burlington-Edison School District where she served as principal of Edison K-8 School for the past four years. Prior to that, she headed up Enatai, Stevenson and Spiritridge elementary schools in the Bellevue School District. The local woman, who grew up in Kirkland, has been in education for 26 years. Prior to beginning her administrative career, Naish taught middle school reading, as well as health and P.E. She also was a peer educator, supporting new teachers and assisting with professional development.
Educators who have worked with Naish in the past note that she is a natural participatory leader, as well as a voracious learner.
They comment that she possesses a genuine, thoughtful approach to working with others and is kind and patient, yet relentlessly dogged in her support of student learning and achievement.
Naish opted to come to Northshore for several reasons: “I knew people in this district,” she explains, “and I had heard about what they were doing. Whenever I would talk to them, they were just so excited about their work.” She adds, “I thought it would be a good opportunity to get back to working with some of these people and to be a part of a really great district that was doing some really interesting and innovative things. And it was also an opportunity to be closer to my family, who all live around here.”
Naish comments that Moorlands and Edison are similar in some respects, particularly with regards to demographics. Additionally, both schools have strong and supportive parent communities that are strong fundraisers and committed volunteers.
Naish describes herself as a hands-on leader, who seeks to build positive relationships with her staff.
She says, “I try and lead by example. If I ask you to do something, it’s something I already do or would be willing to do. I always stress that it’s the ‘we’ when it comes to decision-making, as collaboration is essential.”
Naish is very excited about her teachers and she notes that they are “super positive” individuals, who are motivated to continue to do exemplary work.
She adds, “I am amazed by their willingness to dig in and look at how they can keep getting better.”
For Naish, the job of principal is incredibly fulfilling, as she loves being around people and working with kids.
She remarks, “It’s very rewarding to me when I know that I have helped to make a difference at the end of the day, whether it’s with the kids, parents or staff members. I also enjoy the ability to be a learner along with my teachers.”
When Naish takes off her principal hat in the off hours, she is a consummate reader. She also likes being outdoors and is an avid skier and hiker.
Cathi Hackett began her career in education in 2001 and has been living in the Northwest since 2003 when she moved here both for the area and to complete her M.Ed. in educational leadership and policy studies at UW. She subsequently earned her administrative credential in the Danforth Educational Leadership Program, also at UW. This will be her first full year as an elementary principal. Most recently, she was on staff in the Bellevue School District as an instructional coach. The Northshore School District’s mission and its leadership attracted Hackett. She says, “Northshore’s mission is tightly aligned with my own core values and beliefs about education. The district is focused on collaboration and instructional alignment to support the learning needs of all students.” She adds, “Northshore School District has exceptional leadership, administrators, teachers and support personnel, who demonstrate a high level of commitment to positive educational outcomes for every child. I believe I have the strengths and experiences to offer to the team and a chance to work in concert with educators who share a common vision.”
Hackett notes that while educational work is extremely complex and challenging, it is also one of the few professions that offer such an immense opportunity for impact on individuals, community and the larger society.
As principal of Kokanee, she looks forward to positively impacting the lives of her students, supporting the efforts of the school’s teaching staff and partnering with the school community to do what is best for the children.
“I came into this work because I believe that education opens doors, just as has in my own life,” remarks Hackett. “To be in the business of opening doors for others is a true gift and an honor to be afforded that opportunity on a daily basis.”
In regards to challenges, she emphasizes that each year presents new sets of issues for educators as they endeavor to meet the needs of every student.
She adds, “We can never be certain of the complexities we will face, but I am convinced that our staff, with a common vision and commitment to our students’ success, can support learning and growth for every child.”
Hackett describes herself as a team player, a partner and an advocate, who is tenacious in her commitment to students.
She strongly believes in collaboration and notes that educators do their best work when they work together, engage in critical thinking and support each other to learn and grow in their instructional practice.
Hackett comments that she feels honored to be joining such an exceptional group of educators at Kokanee, as well as a supportive community of parents and neighbors. In her free time, the new principal loves traveling, cooking and being physically active.
“Any day that includes a new place, a new recipe or a good workout is a good day for me,” comments Hackett.