White River picks new superintendent

By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

After what White River School Board President Jean Lacy described as "long discussion and good communication," the board selected Tom Lockyer to succeed outgoing Superintendent Jay Hambly.

"He's a nice fit for our area," Lacy said Thursday. "He had a lot of knowledge, and he's capable of handling change."

Lockyer, in a phone conversation Monday, said he was excited. He said he and his wife looked at this area strongly and thought it would be a good fit for them.

"The feel from the community. The feel from the staff and those engaged in the process made me feel at home," Lockyer said.

The challenges of a larger district and the standards set by Hambly, Lockyer said, were also a draw.

Lockyer has been with the Ocean Beach School District on Washington's Long Beach Peninsula for three years. Previously, he was the superintendent in East Helena, Mont., and a high school teacher, coach and administrator in American schools in Germany. His wife is a special education administrator and was also superintendent of a small district in Montana. She is currently employed with the Educational Service District in Vancouver, Wash.

"The breadth of my experience brings a little different look, a little different blush, to the table," he said. But, he added, his leadership style and personality, are a complementary to the current district.

The Ocean Beach School District has three elementary schools, a middle school, Ilwaco High School and an alternative school. It also has an education foundation, that works as a fund-raising arm for the district.

Since Lockyer's tenure, the district passed its first bond issue in 35 years to rebuild and remodel elementary schools so they may be reconfigured.

The White River School Board worked through an educational consulting firm called Principled Leadership, that sorted through applications and found the board five semi-finalist which were whittled down to the final two.

Those two - Lockyer and Steve Web of the Lake Stevens School District - met with staff members, who Lacy pointed out "did their research and weren't afraid to ask the tough questions." Candidates also met with community and staff members in a public meeting and then board members made site visits to both candidates' current school districts.

"We definitely weighed everything out," Lacy said.

The site visits were a good addition to the process, Lacy said.

"His community loved him," she said of lockyer

Lacy also noted Lockyer's enthusiasm to join the White River district.

Bohrnsen praised the White River School Board for going out of its way to involve the community, many of the community's key players, he said, have already met Lockyer during the search and will feel comfortable coming to his door.

"Our community and staff really supported us," Lacy said. "People say we trust your decision and we'll support you. That's what really makes the board feel good when your community and staff supports you."

The district is in the process of negotiating a contract with Lockyer. The board is expected to take action at its 6 p.m. April 13 regular meeting and Lockyer will start July 1. Lockyer was expected to be in town Thursday, familiarizing himself with the district and community and house hunting.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at

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