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After 17 Years We Must Say a Very Fond Farewell To Our Inspirational Leader

posted May 3, 2013, 3:33 PM by Elaine Smith   [ updated May 3, 2013, 3:41 PM ]
Please read the following letter Dr. McCammon sent to staff this afternoon announcing his departure from Fife after seventeen wonderful years of dynamic leadership. We will miss him greatly but wish him the very best as he begins an exciting new opportunity!

Dear Fife School District Family,

I have some bittersweet news to share with you all. After seventeen years of leadership in the district and having enjoyed the high honor of serving for the past twelve years as your superintendent, I have announced to the school board today in private conversations, my decision to move on to the next exciting challenge in my career. I have accepted a senior level position at the Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform effective July 1, 2013. I have been struggling with this decision for quite some time now, and quite frankly, the role that they have for me is simply a perfect fit and too alluring to turn down this time around. It is an excellent opportunity for me in my career andat 51 years old, I have many years to go before I retire. This opportunity will allow for me to work toward helping build leadership networks around the nation and to consult with schools and school districts on a national level. This is a perfect step for me in my career, and while Fife is a very difficult place to leave, I feel compelled to move toward the opportunity which also affords for me a desire to move home to the great Midwest. We have truly created a family here and I suppose that is why I feel so very bittersweet in sharing this news. Where else can a principal and then superintendent embarrass himself in the role of teen angel,  a munchkin from the Wizard of Oz and FDR in Annie? Only in Fife for sure. I have relished it all more than you can know and I will miss you all deeply.

This was not an easy decision to make and as many of you are aware, I have had such an offer available over the years. I was actually leaving the district twelve years ago to join the center when I was approached to stay and to lead this work forward and I was challenged by the board to have our district become the national model and true standard bearer of this work. Together, we have achieved that distinction for sure and, even though I do not put great stock in test scores, the students who have been with us for that entire twelve years left the district last year with some of the highest assessment scores in the South Sound. I feel great about that collective legacy we have all built even with the dramatically changing demographics we have faced. So, why now when funding is finally coming back and we will have over a million more dollars coming back to the district this fall from the legislature, things are going famously well and my board has informed me that I can stay at the helm for many years if I choose would I consider leaving? Well, while the decision is so very difficult to make, the answer is simpler and there are two significant factors:

1. I have the chance to work full time at the deep passion that I hold about leading school districts to create the very transformation we have achieved here in Fife. My work here is done and it is time for the next leader to take it to the next level. The center sees great value in the experiences that I have accumulated working with the awesome school boards that I have had over the years, the supportive community, the great teachers and administrators in designing an incredible system that has truly become a national model of what a learning organization can be. I plan to share that experience and my passion for this work with others around the nation. I am truly proud of what we have all accomplished together.

2. This is the opportunity to move much closer to home after being away on my life's journey for the past twenty five years. What a journey it has been thus far. While I have new and exciting challenges to meet, I get the great opportunity to realize that all roads, at the end of the day, do indeed lead home. I have a huge and caring extended family and Jill and I are both excited that when our home sells, we will both be closer to family. As we all know, that becomes more and more important the older we get and the older our loved ones become. It is simply time. We will both miss all of the great friends and colleagues we have met here over the years and I truly feel that we have built and have become a part of the Fife family here for sure.

I hope to get a chance to address you all as a group one final time at our May celebration day on the 15th, and to see you all next week at the ice cream recognition visits for teacher appreciation week. But for now, please know that the greatest joy in my professional career has been to lead this incredible school district full of the most caring educators I have ever met and to do it the Fife Way. We have become the envy of any who learn about the trust, collaboration and educational environment we have created from the school board throughout the district. It will be the crowing jewel in my collection of career experiences when I hang up my last necktie for sure. I have truly been blessed to work alongside you all. I am most proud of the fact that we have kept the focus on the work that we design for our students. I am also so very proud that the Fife School District is truly known around the nation as a place where we do things the right way and that we have had a laser focus on our core business in the face of a dramatically changing education environment. Finally, I am so proud that we have made it through the past decade of draconian budget cuts with as little impact as possible on what is best for kids and teachers. We have protected the arts, academics and extra-curricular activities that are so important to all kids. We have stayed true to our core business for over a decade and that is indeed  rare in this business, and I feel good that I am leaving at a time when we are out of the woods on funding issues and the future is so bright in that realm and the path is laid for our work to continue forward. That is a legacy that I can feel very good about.

While one's travels may lead far away, you can always count on my being your biggest fan and truly Fife4life4ever. I have committed to work with the board in whatever capacity I can to help them transition new leadership. We have many significant items on the agenda such as creating a calendar to find more time for you all to prepare for the new common core and state reforms and we also have collective bargaining to settle before the summer. I commit to work to the final day to ensure the same quality of administration I hope you feel you have experienced in my seventeen years in leadership. It has been a great ride and I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for the opportunity to serve as your leader for these many rewarding years. I always use the story of “being in my shoes”. Well, it would be an extremely odd day to experience that, for while I am so excited about the future, my heart is truly breaking in sending out this message.

With sincere love, affection and a deeper respect than you can possibly know,


Dr. Steve McCammon