Meet our Administrators:
Meet our Administrators: Megan Qualls
Position: Principal at Dower Elementary School
Years in Education: 17
Years at Clover Park: 3
Can you tell me a little about your educational career?
I began my career in a self-contained, special education classroom working with students who were multi-disability, health-impaired before moving to fifth grade. I was in Tacoma School District for 14 years. Four years ago, I entered my administrative program and was hired to be an assistant principal at Four Heroes Elementary School under John Mitchell. The next year, I was asked to be the principal at Dower, and I have been here the last two years.
What led you to leave the classroom for an administrative role?
Honestly, I never ever thought I would become an administrator. I was perfectly happy teaching in my classroom. But my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and I was one of her primary caregivers and we talked a lot about regret. A lot of people had encouraged me to think about administration, so the biggest thing for me was making sure I looked into it. I wanted to make sure that it wasn't something that I was going to miss out on.
Is being a principal what you expected it to be?
No! The idea that you are the person who leads and guides the school… I take that as a huge honor and it's very humbling. It's also a lot of pressure to make sure I'm doing right by students, staff and families. I don't think you can really learn that part when you're preparing for a program. The families who come in, the needs they have, the stories the kids have, trying to provide support to all of them and all the staff. It's really hard; but it is so rewarding!
What initially attracted you to a career in education?
I always knew I was going to be a teacher. Not to be a cliché, but I wanted a purpose. It was a passion that was calling since the first time I helped another student in first grade. I knew then, that's what I want to do: I want to be a teacher and I want to help kids.
What has surprised you most about being in education?
Early on, my belief going in about what I thought education provided… skills like math, reading, writing, was just so different from what it does provide. Education includes hope, reading, writing, math, counseling, nursing, parenting and more. The supports needed to be able to reach a child nowadays are not necessarily just academics. You also need to reach kids and help them see why school is important and why they need it.
What motivates you?
My staff and my students motivate me. I have some of the most incredible staff members and students at Dower and I truly mean it. They make me want to come every day and give my all to every kid. Some of our students have really difficult lives, and if they can come each day and give their best, then it makes me want to come and give them give my best.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
There is not enough of me. It is difficult being a single administrator in a school of high need, so I have to rely a lot on my staff. Everybody has to pitch in and help because to serve all students, families and staff it really takes all of us. There are days when I go home and worry I have not been able to do enough for all of the kids because it's just me. That being said, I have an incredible team, which makes Dower a really wonderful place to work.
What is the best part of your job?
Making a connection with a student. Helping them start to believe in themselves, finding some sort of a consequence that's a little outside of the box that really makes a difference for a student who has never been successful in school before. Just being able to provide my teachers with what they need to be successful is the best.
What is unique about Clover Park School District?
There is something so beautiful about the people in Clover Park. They are so welcoming, and they wrap you up in support. Even now, it's my second year as a principal, I can pick up the phone and call and get some support and feedback right away. That's really unique. For me, it's a big love fest! The work is very difficult but we are definitely all in it together, working as a district to create those promising futures.
What are your hobbies?
When the weather is nice, I like to golf with my husband. I do a lot with my two daughters. We go for family walks. They do sports, so I’m a soccer mom on the weekend. When I started at Four Heroes, we sold our home and purchased one in Lakewood. We wanted to be really invested and involved in the district. After that first year, I knew it was a great fit and I'm planning to stay as long as they'll have me.