Meet our Administrators:
Meet an Administrator: Tim Stults
Position: Principal at Clover Park High School
Years in Education: 20
Years at Clover Park: 7
Can you provide some background on your educational career?
I started out in adult education and corporate training and went to K12 education in 1997 in Ohio. I moved to Washington in 2001 and was a teacher at Yelm High School, where I did grant coordination work with the Gates Foundation. That's where I first became familiar with the Clover Park School District. In 2006, I was hired as an assistant principal at Lakes High School before serving five years as a school principal in Philadelphia. Then, in 2014, I moved back to Washington and became the principal at Clover Park High School.
Can you talk about your time in Philadelphia?
I was the principal at University City High School in West Philadelphia. It sat across the street from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, yet our students weren't welcome to visit those college campuses as perspective students when I first arrived. Over the years we saw a lot of gains and improvement in our student work and achievement. As a result, when the school closed in 2013, our students were able to go to those colleges and we now have several graduates from the most prestigious universities around the area.
What led you back Clover Park?
Ultimately, my wife and I wanted to raise our daughters in the Lakewood area, in the Clover Park schools. While our kids here in Clover Park aren’t perfect, they really work together to support each other. It’s as diverse a school and community as you will find: politically, economically, linguistically, ethnically, by orientation or experience- you name it. We just have a very diverse group and to see our kids getting along and working together, that's not true in every school. It wasn't true in Philadelphia. Many of the schools with diverse backgrounds in Philadelphia really struggle with that component of their school and community. The community here is one of the things that led me back when this position opened in 2014.
What attracted you to a career in education?
The kids. Seeing the excitement of students learning is just incredible. Seeing the light go on in the middle of a class when they've been working hard, trying to figure things out and all of a sudden they begin to make some of those connections and you can see it happening — it's almost magical. That's really what attracted me to education.
Where did you go to college and how did those experiences help you get here?
I went to Ohio Wesleyan University for my undergrad. I went to a small rural high school that was probably not as rigorous as it needed to be to prepare me to be successful at the university level, so I struggled for the first couple years. So, I know what it means to struggle in school and I bring that experience to conversations I have with our students. I also know what it means to have a meaningful adult---outside of your parents---speak into your life. It was the investment of one of my professors who really helped me right the ship and get going in the direction that I needed to go. So, I follow his example and invest myself in the lives of our students. What an incredible privilege it is to come alongside our students.
What has surprised you most about working in education?
The ever-changing requirements schools are continually up against. It would be helpful if we settled on what the specific requirements are and what and how we support students in meeting those requirements, but we tend to go back and forth a lot around which tests are required or state academic standards should be applied. So that's the challenge: Leading a school in the midst of ever-changing conditions outside of school.
What motivates you?
My favorite day of any high school year is graduation day. Being honored to stand up on the stage and shake hands with graduates as they walk across the stage as they celebrate the accomplishment of their high school diploma. It's just exciting and incredibly humbling. That is not something I take for granted.
What can you do in your position to help create promising futures?
One of the things I enjoy is being out in the hallways and getting to know our kids, whether it's a fist bump or a high-five or a quick hug. As educators we have to be personally involved in the lives of our kids, and I think that's the first step in helping them create promising futures because it gives us the opportunity to speak to some of the choices they're considering. We have the ability then to help them explore options that maybe they had not thought about, or considered unreachable. A lot of our students have never considered the opportunity to go to college as realistic for themselves because of life circumstances. But that doesn’t have to be true and we have the opportunity to help them see that.
What is the best part of your job?
Getting to work with a great teaching staff and supporting amazing students. I've worked with some awesome groups of teachers in the past, but this staff at Clover Park is just exceptionally dedicated. As a principal, you can't do this by yourself, obviously. It requires the entire staff, teaching and classified staff, to make the gains we have seen and will continue to see. It's a team effort involving every adult in this school pulling in the same direction: improving outcomes for our students.
What are your hobbies?
I spend a lot of time with my family: my wife and two daughters. It's just a lot of fun to see my daughters grow and learn and develop into the women that they were designed to be. My wife and I also have two horses. We really enjoy getting out and riding and just be at peace outside. I also kayak and enjoy being able to get out on the water.
Is there an educator you learned from or worked with who really influenced you today?
Brian Laubach. He was the principal at Lakes High School when I was an assistant principal, and we worked really well together. When I assumed my own school, many of the practices I implemented in Philadelphia were practices I borrowed from Brian. I'm very grateful for him.