Mauk leaves South Whidbey schools, looks for higher-ed step

Students chat with Assistant Principal Scott Mauk near the parking lot after a recent school day. His 17-year career in the South Whidbey School District will end in June.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Students chat with Assistant Principal Scott Mauk near the parking lot after a recent school day. His 17-year career in the South Whidbey School District will end in June.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Walking around the campus just before the final bell, Scott Mauk gets a moment to himself before being swarmed by students.

South Whidbey High School’s assistant principal/athletic director drops off paperwork regarding an athlete’s injury in Waterman’s Field press box. Then he walks into the parking lot, making sure the west gate is open and locking the east gate. It’s one of a shrinking number of times he did the routine. Mauk submitted his resignation, effective June 30, making the move in March after 17 years of employment in the South Whidbey School District.

“I’m trying to branch out and do something different,” Mauk said. Ben Watanabe / The Record | Scott Mauk, assistant principal at South Whidbey High School, high fives a student on his way out of the parking lot. Connecting with students by knowing their names and stories is a hallmark of Mauk’s two-years at the school and 17 years in the district.

“I’m really grateful for this community,” he added. “The challenge in moving to different things is pulling away from that.”

His next job was not confirmed, though Mauk said it will not be on Whidbey Island. Higher education was in his sights, however, and he wanted to teach future educators.

The day’s end bell blares through the speakers. Kids stream out the doors and into their cars and onto the sidewalk as they wait for buses. Students speak with him about leadership class events like a movie night featuring “Wreck It Ralph,” bicycling to school and a recent boys soccer game.

When students address him, they call him Dr. Mauk; he has a doctorate of education from Seattle Pacific University.

Before he was Dr. Mauk, he was just a teacher, Mr. Mauk. Or maybe a mock teacher. In his first job as an educator, Mauk taught seventh-grade English in Kent and was also the school’s maintenance worker. Beyond cleaning chalkboards, the first job stuck with him because he taught a Shakespeare unit — the one lesson he failed in his grade-school days.

Since then, he taught high school, elementary school and alternative school classes. With the South Whidbey School District, Mauk taught social studies and organic gardening at Bayview School, became the director-teacher at Bayview, directed the district’s highly capable learners program, was assistant principal at South Whidbey Elementary School, was the director of the district’s home school partnership program Whidbey Island Academy and assistant principal/athletic director at the high school.

“I’ve liked all the jobs,” he said. “I am called to this work.” Ben Watanabe / The Record | Scott Mauk prepares to open the second gate of the South Whidbey High School parking lot. The school’s assistant principal turned in his resignation in March and wants to work in higher education.

His family rooted here when he began his 17-year career. Sage, Mauk’s oldest son, is a junior at the high school and recently left the states on a student exchange. Sawyer, the youngest son, is a fifth grader at the elementary school.

“My tribe is here,” Mauk said of South Whidbey Island.

In addition to watching his sons mature and advance in South Whidbey schools, the cohort he wrote his dissertation about is the freshman class at the high school.

The majority of his professional career was in alternative education and that’s where Mauk envisions his future and why he left the district.

“What I really want is to do something innovative and interesting,” Mauk said.

“I’ve learned a lot here. But there’s more.”

Teaching at Bayview School, Mauk and the other educators created the exit portfolio, students’ major graduating requirement. That was also the site where he honed his educational focus of connecting with students, knowing their names, their stories, their successes and their failures. It’s an extension of his time at Evergreen State College, where he earned his master’s degree, and at Seattle Pacific University.

The search for a new assistant principal/athletic director began in March. Mauk was hired to the job at an annual salary of $85,217, plus benefits. Whomever replaces Mauk may have different duties, as the assistant principal/athletic director jobs may be reconfigured.

“We’re going to carefully define the position and find what we need,” said Jo Moccia, superintendent of South Whidbey schools.

The salary for the new assistant principal will be between $84,715 and $93,764 for a 220-day contract.

Qualifications include an administration certificate and a master’s degree.

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