School district names its new elementary principal

School board president Rich Parker welcomes two new principals Thursday night: South Whidbey High School
School board president Rich Parker welcomes two new principals Thursday night: South Whidbey High School's Rob Prosch and Jamie Boyd at the elementary school. Boyd was named earlier that day to replace Eric Nerison.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

LANGLEY — The South Whidbey primary and intermediate schools have a new principal and her name is known to many South Enders: Jamie Boyd.

Boyd, who teaches special education at South Whidbey High School, got the word from school district Superintendent Fred McCarthy late Wednesday.

“I’m so excited I could just burst,” she said.

“I’m very impressed with Jamie; she knows instruction and teaching and she’ll do an excellent job,” McCarthy said.

“Jamie surfaced as a front runner in a very objective manner,” he added. “She was picked because she was the best qualified for the job.”

After an initial screening of the original 21 candidates by staff, parents and teachers, the list was whittled down to six, then three.

On Tuesday, the final three contenders for the principal’s job — Boyd, Zoe Deliganis from Seattle and Tom Gobeske from Kitsap County — faced 30 members of the public.

“Our public meeting allowed parents to evaluate what the candidates had to say and provide written feedback,” said Dan Poolman, business manager for the district.

An extensive background search for references was conducted from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

“We wanted to take as much time in the process as needed to ensure fairness and accuracy to all the candidates as well as the community,” McCarthy said.

Boyd has been preparing for her new role for a long time.

“I’ve got my administrative license but I love teaching,” she said. “I decided this year to go for it and am thrilled the opportunity came up. I am dedicated to the district.”

Boyd moved to Whidbey Island from New Mexico in 1993 and has spent 14 years in the public school system, the last seven as a special education teacher at the high school.

She has two bachelor’s degrees in education from Eastern New Mexico University and a master’s degree in school administration from the University of New Mexico.

“When I was a high school junior, I spent the summer working for a man whose son had a learning disability,” she recalled. “I knew then that I wanted to teach special education.”

During the 27 years since, she’s taught at every grade level — including a stint as interim principal at the Intermediate School eight years ago.

“My core belief is that all children can learn,” Boyd said. “Elementary school teachers are essential in the lives of young children.”

She added she’s a firm believer in getting students involved in their own education. “I visualize walking through the halls and feeling the vibrations of excitement in the learning process.”

On the first day of school, Sept. 6, she said she will tackle the nuts and bolts of administration. But her main focus next year will be finding the best way to combine the two schools into a single elementary school.

“We need to ‘re-culturize’ staff, parents and teachers as we bring the K-5 concept into reality,” she noted. “Of course that will include dealing with the physical separation of the buildings.

“But we can do it, working together.”

It’s been a tough year for both school’s parents, teachers and the South Whidbey School District.

With the hiring of Boyd as principal, everyone hopes the past will become a distant memory.

On Jan. 30, Primary School principal Bernie Mahar resigned after she was placed on administrative leave. She has since been charged with first degree theft for allegedly stealing kindergarten funds.

Jan McNeely and Val Brown were assigned as teacher-directors at both schools with Eric Nerison in overall charge as principal.

“It’s time to move forward,” McCarthy said.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at

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