- About Us
Morrow ready to tackle challenges Tahoma faces
For Rob Morrow, accepting the position of school superintendent isn’t something he’d do just anywhere, in fact, Tahoma is the only place he would be willing to take the job.
Morrow, the principal at Tahoma Junior High, was announced as the next superintendent for the Tahoma School District earlier this month, effective next June when current superintendent Mike Maryanski retires. Morrow, who grew up in Burien and has been with the district since the 1982-83 school year, has been principal at Tahoma Junior High since 1999.
“I wouldn’t say specifically the superintendent position appeals superintendent position appeals to me,” Morrow said. “I’d say the superintendent position in Tahoma appeals to me, if you understand the distinction there. I think we’re a unique school system with unique challenges and unique needs and I’ve grown up with it for the last 32 years. I think I’ve been part of the leadership team in our system that’s created what I think is a really quality environment for kids and teachers to go to school. And so the opportunity to support that and maintain it and improve on that is what appealed to me. I wouldn’t be applying for a superintendent’s job in Kent, for example, that wouldn’t have interested me. But in Tahoma it does. Bottom line is I believe in who we are and what we do. And there are some significant challenges ahead for our system that I think will be interesting to take on.”
Morrow earned his bachelors degree in kinesiology at the University of Washington and, later, his masters in education at Western Washington University.
“I had a mentor, Rod Sivertsen, who was the former athletic director in the Tahoma School District and kind of mentored me into the idea of being an educator,” Morrow said of how he developed an interest in education. “That’s kind of how it got started for me, in fact coaching was an avenue to help make that happen.”
Morrow’s first job in the district was as an assistant basketball and assistant football coach and also as a substitute teacher.
“Then the next year I got hired as a teacher and went from there,” Morrow said. “Back then Tahoma was an awfully small school district. There was a nine through 12 high school with maybe 750 kids.”
Morrow spent time as an assistant principal at Tahoma High School before becoming the principal at TJH.
The biggest challenge Morrow said he sees the district facing in the immediate future is space for students.
“Without question the number one need in our system is housing, so passing the bond Nov. 5 is the highest priority because that will then determine what the next three to four, five years are going to look like in our system,” Morrow said.
Other challenges Morrow knows he will have to deal with in coming years include implementation of the Common Core State Standards and helping students achieve the new benchmarks, and the new teacher and principal evaluation program the district is implementing. Should the bond pass, making sure that the projects funded by it are done correctly and responsibly would also be a top priority, Morrow said.
“We’re going to have to do that (implement Common Core and TPEP) either way. How we do that is going to be predicated on passing the bond,” Morrow said.
Whatever happens with the bond, Morrow said the district will have to start planning the day after the election for the district’s next steps — whether that is building a new high school or preparing for other alternatives like multi-track and year-round schooling.
“One pathway is challenging but is energizing in a real positive way,” Morrow said. “The other pathway is challenging but is a little more negative. I’m talking about having to inform families that your child is going to have to be on a year-round school or double shifting or whatever that might be. And that will be a multi-year process, either one of those.”
This school year is going to be one of transition for both Morrow and the school district.
Morrow will split his time between Tahoma Junior High, where he will remain principal this year, and being mentored by Maryanski.
“A little bit of this is an unknown what it’s going to look like but I’ll be spending as much time as they need me to at the district office, I’ll be at all the board meetings, attending elementary principal meetings, middle school principal meetings, that kind of thing,” Morrow said. “It’s a real advantage for me to transition in this way and I have the opportunity to work with the 20 year superintendent for a year, Mike Maryanski … I think it’s a nice transition for the system so when Mike leaves there shouldn’t be a learning curve relative to what’s happening in the system and what the goals are and that sort of thing.”
Morrow said that the sense of camaraderie and collaboration are just some of the reasons he believes that Tahoma is different.
“It’s real unique in that way and fosters a lot of the collaboration that we have and Mike has done a really good job over a lot of years fostering collaboration between teachers and administration and working on a collaborative decision making model that I think has helped lend itself to that unique feeling,” Morrow said. “I’m taking this job for no other reason than I want to do a great job for the community and the staff here at Tahoma. I have no political ambitions. This is the last job I’ll ever have.”