Late school board member honored

The next time the South Whidbey School Board meets, it will be in a room named for Julie Hadden.

The next time the South Whidbey School Board meets, it will be in a room named in memory of a former school board member.

The school board voted last week to name the board room after Julie Hadden, who recently passed away after a seven-month battle with bile duct cancer.

Hadden was appointed to the school board in 2014 and served nearly six years. She stepped down in 2020 to focus on her job at the time, which was as an adjunct faculty member of Brandman University.

“She really had a life-long history of a dedicated educator,” Superintendent Jo Moccia said of Hadden during the board’s April 27 meeting. “She spent her entire life as an educator and meant a great deal to many people, including many people who served on this school board with her.”

A group of people contacted Moccia to ask about renaming the board room after Hadden.

Board Member Andrea Downs, who is part of that group, explained why the request had been made.

“She had a beautiful way of just speaking to you and just knowing what you needed to hear and how to help grow you,” Downs said tearfully. “I think that is why we wanted to center on the board room because the impact of her mentorship really does continue to impact our students on a daily basis.”

Board Member Brook Willeford said he would always remember Hadden’s wise words at the beginning of the pandemic of “If we do this right, it will look like we overreacted.”

“That helped me get through this, the last two years, and center myself on making sure we were looking out for the students and the staff as our primary concern,” he said.

The board voted unanimously with one abstention from a student board member to accept the proposal, which includes the renaming of the meeting room to the Dr. Julie Hadden Board Room and a plaque within the room commemorating Hadden.

Should the board room ever change locations, Moccia assured that the name will also move with it.