JUNE 16, 1997
|Norm Moudry with some of his students.||Dave Jones in his office.|
by Mina Hochberg
High school seniors are not the only ones graduating from the Northshore school system this year. Wellington Elementary principal Norm Moudry and Woodinville High School principal Dave Jones are retiring, or as Moudry put it, taking a "permanent vacation."
Moudry has been principal at Wellington since it opened in 1978. Much of his interest in teaching sprung from his respect for his own teachers when he was younger. "I wanted to be like them," Moudry said. "I wanted to do a job like that." Moudry became a principal when he realized he could have greater influence as a "teacher of teachers."
In his years at Wellington, Moudry emphasized community involvement and teacher empowerment. "We have made it a community school," he said. The 200 parent volunteers currently volunteering on the playground and in the classroom are testament to this.
Fifth grade teacher Fred Lamont, who has known Moudry for nineteen years, highlighted Moudry's trust in his staff. "He's the kind of principal every teacher should have," Lamont said. "I think he trusts the staff he has. He lets them do the thing they're supposed to do."
Moudry was a risk-taker, according to Kathy Leland, a Wellington librarian. She described him as a man "willing and open to new ideas and new concepts." One of the new ideas Leland was referring to is a business partnership between Wellington and a local business which has resulted in "a very positive relationship."
Lamont said Moudry's motto was to "treat everyone with kindness."
"You get what you give," Moudry liked to tell children. He said he valued each child as an individual, and always asked them to try their hardest. He will miss the kids, the high fives, the hugs and the "Hi, Mr. Moudry's."
"He's been threatening for two years to retire," Leland said. "We're very sad to see Norm go."
After thirty years of working with people every day, Moudry looks forward to spending time alone in the New Mexico area looking for gold nuggets, and in Central America at Mayan ruins and strolling down quiet beaches.
"I love the solitude," Moudry said, and explained that he values the "humbling feeling" he receives when looking at ruins that were built by humans hundreds of years ago.
"We shouldn't take ourselves too seriously," he said and brought up a line of advice he often tells children. "Don't sweat the little stuff." Perhaps it was following his own advice that enabled Moudry to achieve the goals that have helped make Wellington the school it is today.
Dave Jones has been with Woodinville High School since it opened in 1983, first as vice principal and then as principal. He has been a principal, counselor, and teacher in the Washington State education system for 31 years and recently decided with mixed feelings that "maybe it's time."
Jones graduated from the University of Washington with a major in English and went on to teach English and history in California and Northshore serving as principal at Woodinville High. At one point, he left teaching for several years for financial reasons. Jones said this hiatus from teaching gave him time to reflect on what he wanted in life. He soon found he was unhappy and returned to education.
Jones would be the last to give himself credit for accomplishments at Woodinville High School. "I would never put it that way," Jones said. "It's seldom that [I] have the power to make something happen. Psychologically, [a principal] is an authoritative figure." But Jones explained that he sees his role as more of a conductor of an orchestra, rather than an authoritative figure. He believes WHS's positive attributes are the result of people working together with the same attitude and work ethic.
"He honors the classroom teacher for what they know and how they teach," said MaryEllen Green, WHS librarian. Green described Jones as not only open to new ideas and creative approaches, but also able to use his knowledge of different cultures and time periods to cultivate ideas. "He's truly a renaissance man," she said.
Roger Jewell, WHS business teacher, worked with Jones at Inglemoor High School and has known him for 20 years. The two played together in the WHS faculty band, which sometimes performed at school assemblies. "You get the genuine feeling that he listens and considers and understands your point of view," Jewell said.
Green said faculty members are excited for Jones, and that after such a high-pressure job, it's time for him to start another portion of his life.
After this year, Jones said he would like to "hang out, read books, putter around and slow down. I'd like to take time to think more, live in the moment." Jones plans to go parachute jumping, experiment with clay sculpting and photography, and enjoy more time with his wife. But even if he manages to read War and Peace, parachute from a plane into an Olympic Stadium, and photograph a Rainier sunset, he would probably still miss the thrill of being a principal.
"It's the ability to make so many things happen," he said, "to make an idea a reality. I think I'll miss that. [But] it's mostly the people. I just like people."