James is Chelan graduate; enjoys outdoors

PATEROS – Susan James, a graduate of Chelan High School, has been named as the next Pateros School District principal.

She has been offered the job and has accepted, said Superintendent Greg Goodnight. The Pateros School Board was scheduled to act on her appointment during its March 29 meeting, which came after The Chronicle’s deadline.

James will succeed longtime Pateros educator Mike Hull, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

“We are very excited to have a person with her experience, education and can-do attitude join our team,” said Goodnight.

James was one of four finalists interviewed for the job. She is a vice principal in the Renton School District.

James said her dad, Dr. Charles James, was an Army doctor. After he left the Army, he settled his family in Chelan. Susan James graduated from Chelan High School, where she was involved in athletics, school clubs, music, drama and student council.

She attended Eastern Washington University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, radio and TV production. She worked behind the camera for several years at stations around the Northwest, including KXLY and KHQ in Spokane, and stations in Yakima, the Tri-Cities and Portland.

“Eventually I returned to school (Eastern) in search of a career that would bring more satisfaction and would be of service to the community,” she said.

She earned a master’s in education, instructional and curriculum, from Eastern, then taught high school language arts and was the yearbook adviser at Auburn Riverside High School in Auburn for 10 years. She was named teacher of the year in 2009 for her work with language arts intervention classes.

James earned her administrative certificate from the University of Washington-Tacoma and has been an assistant principal in the Renton district for the past eight years – four years at Hazen High School and four years at Risdon Middle School. She was activities director at Hazen and athletic director at Risdon, which is in its fourth year of existence.

“I was selected as part of the initial leadership team, along with a small group of teachers, to develop building culture, mission and vision, and to establish connections with our parent community,” she said. “Opening a school was a unique, powerful experience and I am glad to have been a part of it.”

She said she has a passion for education and knows it is the key to opening doors for all students.

“My teaching career focused on supporting struggling learners and overcoming barriers,” James said. “I feel my experience with that, combined with my administrative experience at both high school and middle school, will serve the students, staff and families in Pateros.

“Pateros is a great community. Having grown up in a small town, I appreciate and enjoy the close connections between school and families. It was wonderful to meet so many of the staff and parents during my interview and I look forward to beginning my work in the Pateros schools.”

James said several family members are in education, too.

“I took up cross country skiing this past winter, skiing several times at Echo Ridge” near Manson. “While I am still very much a beginner, I am really looking forward to skiing in the Methow Valley.”

She said she also hopes to do some downhill skiing at the Loup Loup Ski Bowl, and also enjoys hiking, reading and watching movies.

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