Meet our Administrators: Kylie Danielson
Position: Principal at Rainier Elementary School
Years in Education: 11
Years at Clover Park: 11
Kylie Danielson grew up in Clover Park before becoming a teacher in the district 11 years ago. She worked as a teacher at Oakwood Elementary for six years, spent a year as assistant principal at Southgate and then became the principal at Rainier in 2015.
How did you initially get into a career in education?
I knew I wanted to work with kids. I actually started my first two years at University of Washington as pre-med and wanted to do pediatrics. Unfortunately, I hated chemistry and that made me decide to go in a different route to work with kids. Honestly, I’m really glad I did. I have friends I met during my time as pre-med who are still working on their degrees so I feel like I’m making more of an impact in education.
Besides chemistry, what made you want to start working in schools?
When I was pre-med, a lot of my electives were in sociology, which is the study of people. I found these classes interesting. I always loved education and I was a nanny in college. My mom was the secretary at Oakwood, and during the summer I would volunteer there at summer school. Once I decided pre-med wasn’t the route I wanted to go, it was a really quick transition to schools.
What has surprised you most about working in education?
Kids surprise me all the time, just with the silly things they do and say. It’s a really hard job, but it’s a really rewarding one.
What’s been surprising about running a school on a military base?
Growing up in Clover Park, we weren’t a military family ourselves, but I had been around them. Working with military families has still been surprising to me. Because they move frequently and see the struggles of being part of a military family, our students know a great deal. That comes with a lot of anxiety and stress, so our school really wraps around them and offers lots of support for them.
How can you help create promising futures in your position?
I think one of the challenges as an administrator is that it’s easier to create change through kids. It’s harder to create change through adults. You have to change adults to impact the change they’re making on kids. I am continuously looking for ways to improve and encouraging my teachers and staff to look for ways to improve is important, because our kids aren’t going to get better unless we get better.
What made you want to become a principal?
I have always sought out leadership roles. John Mitchell was my mom’s boss at Oakwood and then my boss when I was a teacher. Watching his passion in that role was also a motivator for me. He’s very passionate about everything you talk to him about, so seeing that passion and leadership was one of the reasons.
What’s the best part about working in education?
Seeing growth in kids and hearing the funny things kids say. Kindergartners are just happy about life. Any interaction with kids is the best part of the day, the best part of the job.
What’s the hardest about your job?
Making change through adults is worth it, but it’s a lot slower and a lot harder than making change through kids. Working with frustrated parents to address challenging issues can be difficult. My goal is always to come out of any of those situations on the same team.
What are your hobbies outside of the school day?
I have four children, so they are my hobbies! Anytime I am not at work, I’m hanging out with them. I try to avoid being cooped up in the house, so we go out and do activities. This summer, my goal when I was on maternity leave was to teach my two oldest how to ride bikes. That was a success.
Who were some educators that were influential on where you are now?
There are three of them, and they’re all still in Clover Park. Kathleen Schwartze, who is currently a teacher at Lakeview; Holly Shaffer, who is the director of student services; and Four Heroes principal, John Mitchell. Kathleen and Holly made me want to become a teacher, and John, with his passion and love for kids, made me want to become a principal.