Camas School District superintendent named new head of Vancouver schools

Jeff Snell, who has led the Camas district since 2016, will take over as Vancouver Public Schools superintendent in July

Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell has been named the new superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools. 

Snell, who had served as the deputy superintendent of Camas schools since 2011, replaced retiring superintendent Mike Nerland in 2016. Since then, Snell has led the district through the implementation of the district’s $119.7 million construction bond, the opening of three new schools — Odyssey Middle School in 2016 and Lacamas Lake Elementary School and Discovery High School in 2018 — an $8 million budget shortfall in 2019 and a yearlong pandemic that has forced Camas educators and families to rethink everything they knew about “going to school.” 

The Vancouver school board announced its unanimous decision on Wednesday, March 3, following interviews with finalists in executive session. 

“We were honored to have two highly qualified candidates who could bring so much experience and leadership to our district, knowing that no matter what decision we made, we couldn’t go wrong,” Vancouver school board president Kyle Sproul stated in a news release sent out Wednesday night. “The first thing that strikes you when you meet Dr. Snell is his empathy for others and his passion for inclusion. When you add in his past experience in Vancouver Public Schools 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.”

The Vancouver district’s search for a new superintendent began in November 2020 and included virtual community forums and a total of 34 applicants. The school board narrowed that nationwide applicant pool down to 10 and selected four semifinalists earlier this year, then two finalists who met with the board in-person the first week of March. 

Snell is expected to begin his new role in July 2021. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity to come back to Vancouver and serve the students, staff, and community,” Snell stated in the news release. “I am really excited about our future as we continue to build a welcoming community that brings out the best in our students and each of us!  I look forward to listening and learning through the transition process and really appreciate the school board’s trust.”

Snell, who has more than 25 years experience in education as a math teacher, principal and superintendent, lives in Camas with his wife, Suzie Snell, a guidance counselor in the Vancouver School District, and their three children: Mackenzie and Stephen, twins who are in their first year of college at the University of Washington, and Micah, a fifth-grader in the Camas School District. 

Snell received his bachelor of science in mathematics education from Boston University and his master’s degree in educational leadership and doctorate of education degree from Washington State University.

This is a breaking news story. Look for more coverage in next week’s Camas-Washougal Post-Record, which publishes on Thursday, March 11.