The Peninsula School District will have some fresh faces this year with two new principals and two new assistant principals.
Kristi Rivera will be the new principal at Purdy Elementary, and Hugh Maxwell will take over at Evergreen Elementary. The new assistant principals are Dawn Musgrove, at Goodman Middle School, and Lorraine Hirakawa, at Gig Harbor High School.
Rivera is coming from Olalla Elementary, where she served as principal for the past two years. She worked as a teacher for 13 years and was the dean of students for North Thurston public schools. When former Purdy principal Jim Rudsit called her and said he was stepping down, Rivera jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s such an incredible school, and such a positive community and staff,” Rivera said. “When (Rudsit) told me he was retiring, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. My children are also part of Peninsula School District. I just wanted to be able to contribute to the community.”
She offered praise for the current administration but believes there is always room for improvement.
“I want to continue all of the great things that are happening, and continue to look at how we can be better,” Rivera said. “We need to make sure we’re meeting each student’s needs and helping each child be successful in learning. Whether they need extra support, or an extension if they already know that info, we should be helping each student meet every standard.”
Rivera said she’s ready to get started.
“I’m excited to be able to be back at Purdy, work with the staff again, and support the family and community that are wonderful people,” she said. “I’m excited to work with the children at the school — they are great students.”
Maxwell, the new principal at Evergreen, is coming from the Lewiston School District in Idaho. He moved to Tacoma with his wife on June 23.
“Part of what brought me to this area was some new opportunities for my wife and I,” he said. “My wife is a teacher. We’ve been empty-nesters for the last few years. We’ve always lived near the Washington border, and we think Washington has a stronger school system than Idaho.”
Maxwell said he will bring a fresh perspective, rooted in experience and refined throughout the years.
“One of the things that I’ve learned is that all schools and districts do things well,” Maxwell said. “The key thing is to go in, find what’s working well, and enhance it. Also, bring in a new perspective to look at things, and make suggestions on how to improve.”
Maxwell said he will be consistent and reliable.
“I’ll bring some stability to the position,” he said. “I’ll try to be there every day, in the classrooms every day. I have experience and knowledge and want to extend all the wonderful things happening at Evergreen.”
Maxwell said he believes developing a bond with the students, teachers and parents is the key to success.
“The exciting thing about smaller schools is the more intimate feel,” he said. “Developing that rapport and bonding with the students, parents and staff is what I get excited about and what drives me. Great things happen when you have that relationship.”
Hirakawa, the new assistant principal at Gig Harbor High School, recently worked as a curriculum specialist in Puyallup, where she focused on literary improvement for the district. Prior to that, she spent 18 years as a high school English teacher.
Hirakawa said the administration wants to keep raising the bar for students’ expectations.
“Our team goal is to improve rigor and culture,” she said. “We want to start building demand for rigor and provide access for those students who maybe have never challenged themselves. We want to make that more of an expectation, rather than an exception to the rule.”
Hirakawa said the school is focusing on the safety of its students and the security of the building, in light of recent school shootings.
“We’re taking part in active-shooter practice that the Gig Harbor Police Department is putting on in our school in mid-August,” she said. “We’re really hoping, from that drill, that we’ll be able to sit down with the police department and talk about best ways to secure Gig Harbor High School.
“The building is a challenge. They have some good plans. We hope the practice for an active shooter will give us insight.”
Musgrove will come from Eatonville Middle School, where she served as the assistant principal for the past couple years. She lives in University Place and has two daughters.
“I’m looking forward to learning,” she said. “I’m excited to be part of the team — they’re enthusiastic and organized. I’ve been very welcomed by everyone.”
Musgrove said she’s looking forward to work with her students and colleagues.
“I’m excited about meeting all the teachers and learning and working with them,” she said.