Meet an Administrator: Meghan Eakin
Position: Principal at Lakeview Hope Academy
Years in Education: 18
Years at Clover Park: 18
Meghan Eakin has been with Clover Park School District since 1999. She started as a fourth grade teacher and served as an instructional coach and dean of students before becoming a principal. She was principal at Beachwood and Meriwether Elementary Schools before becoming principal at Lakeview.
Where did you grow up and how did you end up at CPSD?
I grew up in Tacoma. I'd love to say something different, but I was hired the day before school started for a fourth grade position. I think the interesting part of that question, for me, is why I stayed. I really love the diversity and the connections I have made. I can pick up the phone and call people if I need help.
What attracted you to a career in education?
I spent most of my high school and college years working over in Salishan, which is a housing community on the east side of Tacoma. I ran a late-night basketball program. I saw kids on the verge of dropping out or for whom school was overly challenging. I wanted to make a difference and didn’t think I could do that in parks and recreation as well as I could in education.
What led to your work at Salishan?
My mom instilled a belief in service. She worked in a Head Start program in Salishan, so she would bring my brother and I to volunteer when we were in middle and high school. That eventually led to a paid position for me, where I ran the summer camps and basketball program. It was really about finding a way to give back.
What has surprised you most about working in education?
It’s a difficult thing because everyone has an experience with education, so when you talk to people, everyone knows something. But it’s more complex than everyone thinks. What it takes to run a school and get through a successful school year isn’t nearly as easy as it looks.
What motivates you to do what you do?
Lakeview is considered a school of improvement. When I first came to Lakeview, we had only 17 percent of our third graders reading at grade level according to state assessments. It’s motivating for me to find a way to fix that for students. When you have a system or school that continues to go backwards and the data is dropping and students are falling further and further behind, it’s not okay. It excites me to be able to build a team to change that trajectory.
What do you do to turn around a struggling school?
You really have to look at the data and where students are struggling. We have what we think is a pretty sophisticated intervention program here. About 300 students participate in interventions every day. Students receive targeted literacy instruction. We hope we don't have to intervene with that many students in the long-term, but for right now, that's what's happening and we feel pretty good about it.
How can you help create promising futures from your position?
We're a Kids at Hope school and right now, we're focusing on careers. So, students have written about what they want to do after school and what do they want to be. It’s easy for students to say they want to be a fireman or a policeman or a doctor, but what teachers have done in the classrooms is talk about the steps you take to get there. It’s just about opening those conversations with students so we can, in some cases, break generational poverty.
What is the best part of your job?
The energy in this school. I get to greet students in the commons area every morning and staff come through and you can see the excitement. We have test scores coming in and teachers are super excited because students are growing. Meanwhile, students are excited about their own growth. Just seeing that we're not just making a change for one student, but we're making system wide change is exciting.
What is the hardest part about your job?
It is the balance between that sense of urgency and hope or celebration. It’s when we see a class of students where 60 percent of them have met their growth goal right now. That's great and we need to celebrate that, but we can't hang out there for long because that's not enough. I feel like sometimes it's hard for me to lift my head up and see the things that are going well because I'm driven and put my head down and work. So, I need to do that as a leader for our staff.
You were a CPSD Employee of the Year in 2012, can you talk about that honor?
It wasn't just me. It was the team of teachers working with me. We started the professional learning communities process at Beachwood Elementary. We were looking at standards, at instruction, at data and really figuring out what it was that we were teaching. Teachers were giving up planning time during the day to do that, and I facilitated those meetings. It was really about taking advantage of the teachers we had. We do a lot of that now at Lakeview, but that work started back in 2012 at Beachwood Elementary School.