Meet an Administrator: Diana Dix
Position: Principal at Evergreen Elementary
Years in Education: 33
Years at Clover Park: 33
Diana Dix has been the principal at Evergreen Elementary School since 2011. She has served in a number of roles during her 33 years in Clover Park School District, including time as a resource teacher, a consultant teacher and a dean of students. She began her career with a focus on serving special education students.
What initially attracted you to a career in education?
I was always the kid in the classroom who was “the teacher.” I was the oldest in my family. My dad was in the Air Force, so he was gone a lot and I was always helping out my mom. I always naturally fit into that role.
What led you down the path towards special education?
My elementary school experience was in Tacoma at Birney Elementary, which offers services for deaf students. During my third, fourth and fifth grade years, I was like an assistant teacher in the school for the deaf. I would go over at recess time or when I was done with my school work and work with students over there. Later on, I did some work at Mary Bridge Hospital with visually impaired students, which inspired me to pursue that work for my career.
Can you talk about the early part of your career in Clover Park School District?
Early on, I worked as a vision specialist at a few different schools, but I wanted to work in one spot as a young teacher. I wanted to feel like I had a place to belong, so I was hired at Firwood and was the English and art teacher for seven years there. I worked with students with high trauma and special needs. Eventually, I really wanted to get back to the elementary level, which was my first love. I moved to Greenwood as a resource room teacher and had great experiences there.
How has the diversity of positions you have held in education impacted your work as an administrator?
An important part of being an administrator is your ability to listen to families. Part of the process of working with special needs students is really getting to know them and determining what they need and developing their trajectory to success. After that, it’s about being able to work with the families and come up with a plan that works for all of us. I think those collaborations have helped me with my job now. It’s not that I have all the answers and you have none — we both know a little bit and we have to put it together to determine the final answer.
You have been at Evergreen Elementary for more than 10 years now, what was it like when you started there?
My very first day at Evergreen as assistant principal was the school’s yearly literature parade. I got to see all of the students for the first time in one spot as they’re walking down the hall. Everyone was so excited for the parade. I have enjoyed every single day since! It’s busy and never the same, which is why I loved teaching in the first place.
What is it like working at a school located on a military base?
My dad was in the military, so I had always wanted to give back to the military myself. I get to support the military because I am supporting their kids. What I liked about being part of a military family as a kid was that when we moved, we got to reinvent who we were a little bit. As a school on a military base, we get to do a little bit of that here as well. We have kids who are moving in and out, so we end up reinventing ourselves as a school often.
What has surprised you most about working in education?
How busy you always are. I think people believe that when 2:45 comes, you’re done and don’t think about school for the rest of the day. But I’m always thinking about school. Thinking about and worrying about students and staff is always happening — it’s just part of who I am. There is never this moment where you say, “Okay, I’m done for the day.”
What is the best part of your job?
Every morning, I get to watch students at breakfast and have them come up to me to talk about their day. They always have something to tell you that they’re excited about. It’s the joy of the students and seeing them be so excited to be here, being able to cheer a student up in the morning who starts the day a little bit grumpy. It’s just the happy part of students and making a difference.
What are your hobbies?
I love gardening and traveling. With gardening, you plant it, you nurture it and you watch it grow. You clip and change things when you can. Then you have this wonderful food that you get to harvest and enjoy. It’s calming because I can sit outside and not have any noise. There is peace that comes when you’re working on that. I can just walk away, get somewhere quiet and just work on it.
What kind of traveling do you enjoy doing?
My dad and I both love roller coasters. No one else in my family likes them, so when we went places that had roller coasters, my dad and I had to ride all of them. My son and I continue on that tradition today. When my dad passed away, because he knew how much I loved theme parks and kids, he set it up so that when I turned 55 I got an annual pass to Disneyland. That was this last year, so I’ve gone to Disneyland quite a bit this year! It was kind of like dad was with me, it’s been really fun.