Meet our Administrators:

Custer Principal Trish Stallard

Meet our Administrators: Trish Stallard

Position: Principal at Custer Elementary School

Years in Education: 20

Years at Clover Park: First year

What made you decide to go into education?

When I was seven, I knew I was going to be a teacher. There was really no doubt about that. I played school at home, I had a little chalkboard. I actually wrote my own little worksheets. I never veered from that path but I did find that I had a particular skill as a musician, so I actually started my career as a music teacher.

How did you end up in administration?

In about my sixth year of teaching, I really realized I could make an impact outside of the music classroom because I started student leadership groups, character building workshops and things like that with kids. I realized there was more of an impact I could have if I actually entered the front office in the assistant principal role.

Why did you choose to work in Clover Park?

When I was living in Arizona, I was invited to come up to Washington with an organization called Kids at Hope and one of the places we went was right here in Clover Park School District. When I started looking for a position, I saw one open up in Clover Park: It was a no-brainer. I already knew the district philosophy aligned with my personal belief system because there are a couple of Kids at Hope schools in the district. The whole creating promising futures is all about the concept of being able to grow as humans and ask that question: “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” instead of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Why do you think Clover Park is a great district for students to succeed in?

Outside of my door, I have a little sign that says the best way to predict the future is to create it. I think that what we need to do is have kids graduating high school with a variety of options available to them. I think this is a really amazing community to illustrate that in because we have a technical college right nearby, we have comprehensive high schools, we have the IB high school, we have military opportunities. We have so much modeling of that happening right now.

What was the biggest surprise you’ve had working in education?

As a young teacher I had to learn about the importance of forming relationships with kids and not just expecting them to do whatever I said because I was the adult in the room. I have learned all about carrying those relationships forward to my own colleagues and out into the community and how important it is to be a part of that. One of the biggest surprises is that doesn’t take a whole lot of extra effort.

What is the hardest part about teaching?

There is some heartbreak in this job. Sometimes you form those really tight relationships with families and kids and then they have to move. Or sometimes in trauma impacted neighborhoods, tragedies occur and that’s really hard.

What is the best part about teaching?

Being able to bring our best for kids every day, see them smile. A kiddo who says “Mrs. Stallard come see my writing today!” Those things are just amazing because you realize what you’ve done is build up this value system in the kids, where they’re celebrating their own growth and they are eager to show what they’re capable of. That’s just a lot of fun.

What are your hobbies outside of the principal’s office?

I actually train in martial arts. I even met my husband through martial arts years and years ago. I train in stand up fighting and Brazilian jiu-jitsus, so that’s a hobby of mine that might be surprising to some people. I also have three boys at home and so we do just a lot of things together. They rope me into playing video games sometimes because I just want to do what they like when we’re spending time together. We do enjoy going to movies and lots of hikes and things like that.

How does martial arts apply to education?

One of the things about when you go to a good martial arts school, it’s all about the comraderies and it’s all about supporting one another. There is also a sense of hierarchy. There is a belt system, you know where to stand, you know who to accept coaching from. There are rules about who you are allowed to coach on the mat depending on what your rank is and what skills you have, and so all of that just sort of teaches you about leadership and about what it means to be on a team. I would recommend marital arts to kids too. Of course my kids do it, but there are so many different options available as far as marital arts go that just teach discipline and caring and the importance of hard work.

Was there an educator you remember who really made a big impact on you?

My high school choir director Eric Richardson was the single biggest impact on me. I had already been a musician for quite some time, but I just kind of figured I was doing it and it was fun. But he actually said: “Wait a minute, you have a talent and it surpasses the talent of many of your peers: Maybe we need to talk about this as part of your future.” And I had never encountered anyone who had recognized that before.