Sequim Superintendent finalist: Mellody Matthes

Mellody Matthes has never been a school district superintendent, but she is familiar with considerable challenges.

Try an 18-month bike tour around the world. Try earning a doctorate in educational leadership.

And, in her most recent position as assistant superintendent in the Tukwila School District, handling a student population that boasts 54 distinct languages and 72 dialects.

Matthes, the third of four finalists for Sequim’s superintendent position to make a full-day campus visit, was speaking in terms career educators can appreciate as she detailed on Wednesday afternoon the challenges and opportunities for Sequim schools.

That includes moving instruction beyond school walls, she said.

“I think the classroom can be anywhere,” Matthes said, noting that advances in technology can lead to instruction at home, via the Internet and even on school buses.

She also promoted the idea of “open source” teaching, in which educators from across the nation can share what they’ve learned works for their students, and in turn those teachers can apply those programs in their classrooms — rather than simply adopting a new set of books or curriculum.

Matthes, who has experience in the classroom as a teacher for years in Kitsap and Mason counties, said she was drawn to the position opening because of the environment and the community as a whole.

“It’s beautiful here … (and) I love that you support your schools,” she said.

Matthes has 13 years of administrative experience, the last two in Tukwila as assistant superintendent.

She was an English and drama teacher at three different school districts (Kent, Federal Way and Central Kitsap) before stints as dean of students at Fairview Junior High in Silverdale (1994-95), assistant principal at Shelton High School (1995-98), principal at Shelton High (1998-2003) and executive director of human resources in Oak Harbor (2004-10) before moving on to Tukwila.

Matthes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech and drama from Washington State University in 1981, a Master of Arts in educational in administration from Western Washington University in 1993 and a Doctorate in educational leadership from Washington State University in 2008. 

Matthes also was being considered for the Port Townsend superintendent position, being named one of four finalists before the board selected David Engle.

Tukwila, located in South King County, has a school district of 2,800 students enrolled in five schools.
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