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Sequim Superintendent finalist: Robert Kuehl


For Robert Kuehl, being a good school administrator starts with relationships.

He’s the kind of boss who is more likely to answer an e-mail with an in-person visit than with another e-mail, he told school board directors and community members Thursday during a daylong campus visit.

Kuehl was the fourth of four finalists for the Sequim School District superintendent position to visit the area.

School board members decide today, Friday, March 23, who will replace superintendent Bill Bentley later this year.

“One of the reasons I like Sequim is the size of the district,” Kuehl said. “You’re so close … (that you’re) able to talk with people.”

Kuehl (pronounced “keel”) has worked for the Tumwater School District since 1981. As assistant superintendent, he oversees human resources, technology, capital projects and more.  

He was a teacher (1981-90), assistant principal (1990-94), principal (1994-96, 1996-2001), director of secondary education (2001-03), director of capital projects and district programs (2003-05) and executive director of human resources (2005-08) before taking his current role.

Kuehl said major cuts in recent years to education from state and federal sources, while difficult to handle, made school districts look a bit in the proverbial mirror.

“Our challenges really are our opportunities,” he said. “(The cuts) really caused us to examine what’s working.”

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Washington University in 1980, a master’s degree in administration from the University of Puget Sound in 1991 and his superintendent’s credentials from Washington State University in 2008.  

Kuehl said he was interested in the Sequim position for a number of reasons, including the environment and the opportunity to take his first superintendent job.

“I think a superintendent has a great responsibility to be the keeper of vision and keeper of hope (in the school district),” Kuehl said.

Tumwater is the third largest district in Thurston County, serving more than 6,000 students in 10 school buildings.
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