PT, Chimacum, Quilcene greet school year with new staff

Kirk Boxleitner
Posted 9/5/17

With the start of each new school year, there are usually a few new faces for both students and parents to familiarize themselves with.

School began yesterday, Tuesday, Sept. 5 in Port Townsend …

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PT, Chimacum, Quilcene greet school year with new staff


With the start of each new school year, there are usually a few new faces for both students and parents to familiarize themselves with.

School began yesterday, Tuesday, Sept. 5 in Port Townsend and Chimacum. Quilcene students started their first day of the year today, Wednesday, Sept. 6.


The Port Townsend School District has 11 new teachers and 10 new classified staff members coming on board this school year, in addition to Blue Heron School getting a new principal, Patrick Gaffney.

Gaffney brings with him 19 years of service in public education, having served as a teacher, counselor and administrator. He began his teaching career in Ocean Shores, Washington, before doing double duty as an assistant principal and athletic director for grades 7-12 in Chewelah, Washington.

Just prior to his arrival in Port Townsend, Gaffney taught mathematics in Memphis, Tennessee.

“I really like the size of the community,” Gaffney said of Port Townsend. “I spent last year working in a larger district, and most of my career has been in smaller districts.”

Gaffney is to be paid a salary of approximately $96,000. He replaces outgoing principal Matthew Holshouser, who worked for two years at Blue Heron.

“I look forward to becoming part of the Port Townsend community,” Gaffney said. “Throughout the process of applying and interviewing for the position, each person I met was kind and genuine.”

While Gaffney is the school district’s only brand-new principal, Ann Healy-Raymond has stepped up as half-time assistant principal at Grant Street Elementary, albeit for this school year only.

Healy-Raymond served as director of instruction and technology for the district last year, and as its media specialist prior to that.

“She is not new to the district by any means,” said Laurie McGinnis, human resources and payroll director for the Port Townsend School District.


The Chimacum School District’s hiring was a bit more robust for this school year, with 12 new teachers, two reassigned teachers and five new coaches, plus a new behavior interventionist and paraeducator for Chimacum Creek Primary School, a new dean of students and in-school suspension (ISS) coordinator for Chimacum High School, four new district employees and a reassigned K-12 library media specialist.

After Mark Barga retired from the position over the summer, Jason Lynch was selected as the new principal for Chimacum Elementary.

Chimacum Superintendent Rick Thompson noted Lynch’s “rich background” as an elementary teacher, Title I director and administrative intern, and added that the selection committee took note of Lynch’s “local ties,” as he was previously employed as the reading specialist at Grant Street Elementary and the Title 1/LAP coordinator for the Port Townsend School District.

“I saw in Jason a wonderful leader who has the skills and the excitement to work with our third- through fifth-grade students and their families,” Thompson said.

Lynch’s annual salary is set at $91,223 for his new position in Chimacum.

When Whitney Meissner left Chimacum High School over the summer to take over as superintendent of the La Conner School District, Assistant Principal Brian MacKenzie stepped into her shoes as principal of CHS.

MacKenzie taught high school history, math, English, German and Spanish for 14 years on the Mississippi Delta, on Arizona’s southern border and on the Pojoaque Pueblo in New Mexico.

Along the way, he also coached varsity football and baseball, plus debate, drama, Academic Decathlon, Brain Bee and National Honor Society.

Focusing on MacKenzie’s career from 2010 forward, Thompson credited him with leading “successful turnarounds” at Dishchii’bikoh Elementary School and in the Ajo Unified School District, both in Arizona, as their principals.

While MacKenzie described his previous two principalships as “help[ing] failing schools turn around fast,” he asserted that Chimacum High School represented a different challenge: “taking a successful school from good to great.”

“Instead of starting from scratch, we can build on strengths as we address needs,” MacKenzie said. “It’s the same joyful, relentless improvement process. We’re just farther along here.”

Art Clarke, who works in finance operations for the Chimacum School District, clarified that the 2016-17 salary schedule for the Chimacum High School principal starts at $102,025 and tops out at $106,311.

“Placement is based upon experience,” he added.

Stephanie McCleary, human resources director for the district, said that MacKenzie is to be placed at step 5 on the salary schedule, based on previous experience, which amounts to $104,342 a year.

Thompson added that Holly Patton, director of special education for the Chimacum School District, is being shared with the Quilcene School District, as their special services director.


In addition to Patton, the Quilcene School District has brought on board a new art teacher, Gelindo Ferrin; a new counselor, Deslie Church; a new operations manager, Robert Heck; a new kindergarten teacher, Lauren Kleinberg; and a new K-12 principal, Sean Moss.

Moss has worked for the past six years as an art, history, technology and senior-project teacher, as well as a principal intern, for the Rosalia School District in eastern Washington.

Quilcene Superintendent Wally Lis praised Moss as the “most qualified” candidate, because of his prior experience at a school similar to Quilcene.

“Plus, his record of service in the military shows a maturity,” Lis said of Moss’ eight years in the U.S. Navy as a shipboard firefighter and training specialist.


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