Less than four years after being named Washougal’s top public schools administrator, Washougal School District Superintendent Mary Templeton is considering a career move to spend more time with family.
On Monday, March 21, the Issaquah School District in Issaquah, Washington, introduced Templeton as one of the district’s top three superintendent candidates — a group that also included Jennifer Bethman, the assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Bethel, Washington, and Heather Tow-Yick, a deputy superintendent in Mukilteo, Washington.
Templeton interviewed with Issaquah School Board members, met with students and staff and toured the Pine Lake Middle School in Sammamish, Washington, on March 21.
The Issaquah School Board announced on Thursday, March 24, that it had selected Tow-Yick as its next schools superintendent.
“I was honored to be a part of a process, and at the end of the day, (I knew) the school board was going to pick the person they think is the (right) fit,” Templeton told the Post-Record. “The fit is an important part for the board and it’s important for a superintendent as well. That’s what I hope for all school boards who are looking for a superintendent and all superintendents who are looking for a school (district), that a match is made that’s successful, because when that happens, it means that student achievement is going to rise. I was happy for the Issaquah School Board and their new superintendent.”
Templeton, a longtime educator and school administrator who worked for four years as a human resources director at the Spokane Public Schools district before coming to Washougal, replaced former Washougal schools superintendent Michael Stromme in July 2018.
Templeton earned a base salary of $155,000 during her first year, then received a raise for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years that increased her salary to $168,905. The Washougal School Board increased her salary again for the 2021-22 school year. Templeton currently earns $181,927 per year.
Balancing work and family after ‘unexpected life events’
Templeton told The Post-Record this week that, when she commits to something, she commits 100 percent. And, though the superintendent feels she has done exactly that in her role leading the Washougal School District, Templeton said she is now trying to figure out how to give her family the same amount of attention she gives her job – and that doing so might mean she has to leave Washougal.
Templeton said that she applied for the Issaquah job primarily due to family considerations. On Oct. 26, 2021, Templeton’s husband, Terry, died after suffering a heart attack.
“There have been some unexpected life events that have occurred in my family over the last several years, and some of those pieces do allow me to put myself into a position where I begin to think about the future of my family,” said Templeton. “I’m a mom, daughter, sister, aunt and superintendent. How do you balance all of those responsibilities to find balance that supports everybody in that scenario? I list those (family relationships) because I feel responsible and invested into the future of that group, but I also list ‘superintendent’ as well because I’m 120 percent all in. That would be the reason that I’m at the spot where I’m considering the next step.”
Templeton’s three children — Tyler, Nick and Brenna — are adults “trying to figure out their futures, their next steps as they relate to their careers, their education, and their partners, and what all that means,” Templeton said, adding that, although her children haven’t explicitly asked her to move closer, they have put out hints that they would like to have their mom living closer to their homes in the Seattle area. .
“As their lives progress and they move forward and develop their families, I want to make sure that I’m a part of that,” Templeton said. “I also feel responsible to be as supportive as possible with my mother and mother-in-law. I also have other family members that are in that Seattle area as well.”
Templeton said that the fact that she applied to another school district does not mean she doesn’t still love her Washougal job.
“My last four years here clearly indicates that I don’t do anything halfway,” she said. “I am 100 percent all in because I think that’s the right way to lead. Nothing has changed as it relates to that. I am very happy. I (feel) supported. I would say, ‘I love my job. I live here. My dentist is here. I go to church here. This is my home, and you won’t get anything less than 120 percent from Mary Templeton, and that’s what you have right now.'”
Issaquah school board commends Templeton’s qualifications
Issaquah School Board members announced during a meeting on Thursday, March 24, their selection of Tow-Yick as the district’s next chief administrator, culminating a four-month process that gathered extensive feedback from students, families, staff and community members.
The board members praised all of their top three candidates, including Templeton.
“In a way, we had an embarrassment of riches,” board member Suzannne Weaver said. “I truly believe that any of the three candidates could come to Issaquah and successfully lead the district. I was really excited about that. I was kind of scared going into it that that wouldn’t be the case. They all focused on a lot of the key things that the stakeholders talked about.”
Weaver commended Templeton’s small- and large-district experience, record of improving graduation rates, emphasis on being visible and focus on marketing and branding.
Board member Sydne Mullings complimented Templeton’s relationship-building skills, “engaging” demeanor, and ability to communicate and connect with people.
Templeton’s superintendent experience as well as her “passionate” support for the arts and approachable manner stood out, according to Issaquah school board member Harlin Galinger.
Issaquah School Board President Anne Moore extolled Templeton’s financial stewardship record, background in teaching and human resources, and ability to be “comfortable and confident” in front of groups, while another board member, Marnie Maraldo, said Issaquah administrators spoke highly of Templeton.
“The administrators said that Dr. Templeton was well-spoken, very engaged in the community, appeared collaborative and team-focused, and wanted to leverage the strength of the system and the individuals within the system,” Maraldo said. “Also, there was something that she said about being brave enough to acknowledge some of the issues within her current district and facing them head-on that I appreciated.”