By Doug Petrowski
Greg Schwab has served as principal of Mountlake Terrace High School since 2005. He recently applied to become the Edmonds School District’s Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools; it was announced earlier this month that the assistant superintendent position will be filled by Patrick Murphy, an administrator from the Issaquah School District. We asked Schwab about that and several other issues in a recent interview by email.
How do you measure a successful school year at Mountlake Terrace High School?
We define success in many ways each year. We look at sum total of the school year with regard to the accomplishments of our students and staff—each year we have many programs that garner much attention and recognition for our school.
This year for example, our boys’ basketball team going to state, our Jazz 1 Band qualifying again for Essentially Ellington, our school’s recognition as one of the top public high schools in the nation, a list published each year by the Washington Post. Our excellent graduation rate (92 percent), our very low dropout rate (2.1 percent). There is much that we have going on that is positive each year.
We also, of course, have to look at our performance on state standardized tests, as that is a piece of data which we get yearly that gives us some valuable data on the academic performance of our students on a high-stakes test. We’ll get these results in late June of this year.
How has current school year measured up?
As I had mentioned above, there are many highlights in our school year. One of the ones I am most proud of has been a recent award our school won—we have been named as a Mix It Up Model School for the 2012-13 school year based on our work this year to create a school community that is inclusive and welcoming for all students. Mix It Up is a program sponsored by Teaching Tolerance, a group that is part of the Southern Poverty Law Center. We were one of 77 schools nationwide to be selected for this honor.
What will be your longest-lasting memory from the 2011-2012 school year?
There are so many great memories each year. I think for me it is the individual students who overcome so many obstacles each year and graduate in spite of them. Each school year there are one or two students that I work with really closely as part of our incredible team of caring staff members and it is always really gratifying for me to see them at graduation and know that we had a hand in making it happen for them. There are also the amazing performances displayed by our students: the boys basketball team at the State Tournament, our incredible drama productions, band and choir concerts. We have some really talented kids and staff who support them.
Why did you apply for the Edmonds School District Assistant Superintendent position earlier this year?
It was one of those opportunities that doesn’t come along very often. I saw it as a chance to help shape our system from a much broader perspective. Having worked in several other school districts, I have the benefit of some perspective and Edmonds is a great school community to be a part of. I applied so that I could be a part of continuing the great work we are doing at all levels, but in the case of this position, I would have been working with all middle and high schools.
What was the response from the MTHS staff and student body when another candidate was chosen for the position?
Our staff and students have been incredible to me. Everyone has been so kind and complimentary to me, expressing disappointment for me that I did not get the job, but also gratitude that I will not be leaving.
Will you be back as principal of Mountlake Terrace High School in September 2012?
I will absolutely be back and I have no intention of applying for other jobs. As I said, this was a rare opportunity that did not work out for me, but I am not actively seeking other positions. I took not getting the job as a sign that the universe is telling me I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing. I love our school and community and am very happy here
When can we see you playing in your band? (Editor’s note: Principal Schwab plays in band called “The Stray Dogs”)
We have nothing scheduled for the foreseeable future. But if we do, I’ll be sure to let you know.