Middle school principal bound for Central Washington

After four years in the South Whidbey position, James Swanson is headed home to Leavenworth.

After four years of serving as the principal of South Whidbey Middle School, James Swanson is resigning from the role.

During a school board meeting Wednesday night, South Whidbey School District Superintendent Jo Moccia announced that Swanson has accepted a position at Icicle River Middle School in Leavenworth as the school’s principal.

Swanson will finish out the school year at South Whidbey. His last day is June 30.

He will be replaced by Kayla Phillips, a principal intern who has also been a teacher with the school district for the past five years.

During his time with the school district, Swanson witnessed the closure of the middle school’s old campus in Langley and the restructure of seventh and eighth grades in their new location on the high school campus.

“That was a pretty emotional struggle for a lot of people,” Swanson said. “We as a collective group were able to rebuild.”

Swanson also helped implement an enrichment program for middle school students at the South Whidbey Community Center, something he said he is most proud of.

The program helped lower the discipline rate of students considerably. There were 117 discipline referrals during Swanson’s first year with the district.

In comparison, during the months in the 2019-2020 school year leading up to the COVID-19 shutdown in March, there were only 12 discipline referrals.

“This area is unique for a lot of reasons,” Swanson said. “Not just the location, but the culture and the community. People here really care about the kids, and that’s evident.”

The move to Leavenworth, he said, is about returning home. He lived in the Wenatchee Valley and Leavenworth before coming to South Whidbey.

“As cliché as this is going to sound, I’m going to miss the people,” he said.

“I hope the community understands what a gem they have with the people who work here.”

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