Meet our Administrators
Meet our Administrators: Sean Schoenfeldt
Position: Principal at Tyee Park Elementary School
Years in Education: 21
Years at Clover Park: 3
Sean Schoenfeldt worked in Tacoma Public Schools for 14 years, teaching every elementary grade but third during that time. He moved into administration in the Port Angeles School District and spent three years as the elementary principal at the Muckleshoot Tribal School. He is currently in his third year as principal at Tyee Park Elementary.
What has surprised you most about working in education?
The unpredictability. All you have to draw upon is your own experience in education before you get into it. As a student, you didn’t realize all the work and improvisation involved. The work load outside of the classroom was a shock to me. Though what has also been surprising to me are things like how caring and supportive colleagues can be. If you’re really working in a good situation, you’re never an island.
Was it always your plan to be a principal when you got into education?
No, actually I have a bunch of friends who always like to bring up that I was the one who said I never wanted to be a principal. I had a couple good principals see leadership potential in me and they’d have me do some of the small stuff, like lead a committee or a family event. I loved teaching in the classroom but what was really energizing me was starting to go beyond the classroom. It was talking to colleagues and troubleshooting together or meeting a community group that wanted to help the school.
If you had to choose one word to describe your leadership style, what would it be?
Integrity. We have a phrase that we started at this school, and I have to give credit to my dean of students Lisa Stevens. We say “integrity means we do what’s right even when no one is watching.” I want that to be me. I want to have that integrity no matter what. It doesn’t matter if parents are going to see it, if kids are going to see it, if the school board is going to see it, I need to do what’s best for the students and staff all the time.
What are your hobbies?
Like I’m sure most people say when they answer this question, I love my family. My wife and I have been married 14 years and we have an 11-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old daughter and my passion is them. My hobbies have taken a backseat to their hobbies. I’m a soccer dad now and we love that. My youngest is really artistic and I love her sharing those moments with me. I also used to teach kung fu.
How did you get into teaching kung fu?
I have cerebral palsy. I started doing martial arts as a kid to help with that. When I was in college I really started getting into kung fu. It was a martial art that really fit me. I got my black belt when I was 28 and I have my fifth degree now. When a kid says they can’t do something, I tell them a lot of people didn’t think I could do this with martial arts. I may have had to do it differently and I may have had to work harder, but I have surpassed most of the people I started with who had less challenges than me.