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Big man leaves campus

When the staff and students of South Whidbey Intermediate School walk through the doors for summer vacation, they will be bidding principal Doug Hale farewell.

After six years in the district, Hale is leaving to accept a position closer to his Bothell home, at the Hollywood Hill Elementary School in Woodinville.

“I want to end the year just like we always do. I don’t want the focus to be on me and my departure,” Hale said.

He will remain at school wrapping up loose ends until June 30.

Hale said it will be easier to leave with everyone else gone.

“It’s an emotional time for me,” he said.

At nearly 6 feet, 8 inches tall, Hale could be called the gentle giant for his style with students. He towers over students, and everyone else for that matter, but is soft-spoken and has a ready smile as students clamor after him in the hallways and on the playground.

Hale announced his decision to leave during an all school assembly recently. He will begin his new position as principal of the K-6 school on July 1.

“I am leaving for the right reasons. To be nearer my family and their activities.”

Hale and his wife, Kathy, have two daughters, in sixth and third grades.

But even so, it is an emotional decision for Hale.

Hale said leaving the South Whidbey School district and community is “like leaving a family behind.”

Staff and students will miss him as much as he will miss them.

“He’ll be hard to replace. He has been a tremendous asset to the Intermediate School, and we will miss his sense of humor,” said teacher Sally Thompson. “With Doug, kids have always been his first priority.”

His students are aware of his commitment to them too.

During a break recently, several said they would be going to the new school with him. Failing that, fourth-grader Katie Ewing said, “We will have a big party for him.”

Hale said he hopes the new school district will come close to what his experience here has been.

“When I came here I needed a place to give me a chance and this district and community gave me a second chance. I am grateful to the administrators for having the courage to see what I was really about,” he said.

Hale served as assistant principal at the South Whidbey High School before he became principal at the Intermediate School. Prior to becoming an administrator, Hale was a math and science teacher in the Lake Washington school district. He also held positions in Kent and Mukilteo school districts. He is a graduate of Seattle University and the University of Washington.

Hale said he loved teaching high school science, but a few turns in the road led him into administration.

One of the biggest changes Hale has seen during his tenure here is the shift in math education for K-12.

“It went from a standards based approach, like most of us were taught, to a integrated problem solving approach,” Hale said.

Hale said the new language arts curricula the district is researching is headed down a similar path.

When Hale walks through the Intermediate School doors for the last time as principal, “I will be leaving a ‘slice of heaven behind.’”

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