Everything from the tiny blades of grass to the rise and fall of Mozart’s Requiem has a common thread: there’s a pattern to follow for almost all things in life.
It’s the prism through which Dr. Michelle Reid sees her world. Reid, a former teacher and collegiate athlete, took the reins of Northshore School District this summer and the new superintendent has already begun to approach things like a science experiment.
“I think having a math and science background, often science is about innovating or creating, and I think you have to decide what variables are constant; independent or dependent,” Reid said. “I try to isolate the things we can control from the things we can’t and make sure the things we can control, we do really well.”
The constants, she said, were the district’s borders and the the communities that make up Northshore itself. Everything else — the culture, the district’s climate — are subject to change.
Reid takes over at a tumultuous time for the Northshore School District, which is in the process of three major initiatives. The district is working to shift school boundaries to better balance school populations, and is also changing to a model in which middle schools will house grades 6-8 instead of 7-9.
Northshore is also planning to open North Creek High School next fall — oh, and the district is in trade talks with the teachers and support staff unions.
“At the moment, I think there are enough projects on the table to keep me busy for the next year,” Reid said. “Those are all really big pieces of work, and I think it’s going to be important to do those pieces well in order to maintain the trust of the community.”
“That’s my focus right now: take the work we’re already engaged in, the work that [former Superintendent Larry Francois] started, and continue that work in a positive direction.”
Previously, Reid was superintendent at South Kitsap School District in Port Orchard. The district is far smaller than Northshore, but Reid left a mark in a three-year stint along Puget Sound.
The district was fighting declining enrollment upon her arrival, something Reid pushed the district to solve by shifting mathematics courses. Earlier algebra meant more students could complete more math courses by the end of high school. Enrollment increased by the time Reid moved on.
But not all of Reid’s training and tendencies lie in a math textbook. Born in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany — it was still West Germany when Reid was born — Reid has fond memories of the Alps, snow, deer and skiing.
Her family moved to Boston when she was five, and eventually wound up on the west coast. She graduated from Sumner High School in Pierce County, and went on to play basketball, volleyball, tennis and softball in college.
Reid, who has four children, said she understands the value of participating in activities outside of the core classes.
“Whether that’s debate, athletics, drama, career or technical education — whatever it is that drives the passion a student has, you learn the nuts and bolts in the classroom,” she said. “The opportunity to apply the experience outside of the classroom, in my opinion, really teaches things you can’t otherwise learn.”
Reid takes over for Larry Francois, who left to accept a position as superintendent of Educational Service District 189. Reid received her Master of Education and doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Washington, and her Bachelor of Science in natural science/chemistry from the University of Puget Sound.