Principal leaving Peninsula High School

Tim Winter is taking a job as superintendent of Clarkston School District

Staff writerMay 16, 2014 

After announcing a move to be superintendent of Clarkston School District, PHS principal Tim Winter poses in his office next to a "Be Awesome" sign; a motto at the school. LEE GILES III/Staff photographer

LEE GILES III — The Peninsula Gateway

Tim Winter’s time as Peninsula High School principal has been, in a word, awesome.

The school’s motto, “Be Awesome,” is everywhere: on lanyards, on the wall of his office and on the minds of the students and staff.

“I hope the legacy is we’ve changed the perception in the community of Peninsula,” Winter said. “Relationships are the most important thing.”

In previously Gateway reporting, PHS volunteer coach Mike Stelle said “When I moved up here 16 years ago, Peninsula had a bad reputation. It was the not-good school, and Gig Harbor was the good school. Peninsula is a special place right now.”

Stelle credited the turnaround to Winter, saying he fostered an environment that showed students that there is more to life than just getting through it.

Winter turned in his letter of resignation on May 13. He’s headed to the Clarkston School District in eastern Washington to serve as superintendent.

“My family and I lived there for 4 years before coming here in 2001,” Winter said. “I think when the superintendent’s job came open I felt like the timing was right.”

He spent 13 years at Peninsula, seven of them as principal. His office is full of green and yellow “Peninsula Proud,” memorabilia. He says it’s hard to leave, and as the time draws near, he expects it to get harder. But he’s optimistic about the new position.

“I’m going to stretch and grow,” he said. “At the same time (Peninsula High School) is an amazing place to be.”

Peninsula School District Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto said the search is underway for a new principal. While Winter may be leaving a large hole to fill, he’s also leaving a well-run school.

“Tim’s done a great job at Peninsula High School; he’s going to be really hard to replace,” Cuzzetto said. “The advantage is he’s leaving that high school in really great shape.”

Cuzzetto thinks that the superintendent position is a good fit for Winter. 

“We hate to see him go, but this is a great opportunity for him,” he said.

Winter will begin his new role July 1, and the Clarkston community is already anticipating his arrival. 

“It is obvious that Tim is loved in Gig Harbor and will be greatly missed,” Greg Castellaw, president of the Clarkston school board, said in a news release. “We feel Tim is the perfect fit for our school district and expect him to do great things in Clarkston.”

Leaving is bittersweet, but Winter hopes it sets an example for his students. He wants them to always reach for new heights and always stretch themselves.

“I think (students and staff are) very supportive, but they’re sad to see me go and I’m sad to leave them,” Winter said. “Hopefully, what we do as adults is we practice what we preach.”

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155 karen.miller@gateline.com

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