One Year In: PSD Superintendent Reflects


Carolyn Wiley, KP News

Peninsula School District Superintendent Robert Manahan, Ed.D., started his job a year ago July 1. Courtesy Peninsula School District

Robert Manahan, Ed.D., started his new job as superintendent of the Peninsula School District July 1, 2016. Assessing his first year, he said, “For me, it has been a year of excitement, year of learning, year of discovering an incredibly supportive community—community of people who are willing to give their time, share their talent and provide financial and in-kind support. It has been very exciting.”

Manahan is pleased that the district has been able to increase staffing levels, to provide for more teachers on special assignment (TOSA) and counselors at the middle school level.

TOSAs are teachers who are released from classroom duties to function as instructional facilitators and instructional coaches. These teachers support the development of teaching teams and help new teachers become more effective by building on the strengths that they bring to the classroom.

Manahan said that moving from a district of 1,400 students in Lake Chelan to one of 9,000 presented a number of challenges. “Not only is the district larger, but it also is a more layered and complex district than Lake Chelan.” However, Peninsula still feels like a “small community” although it covers a large geographic space.

He spoke with pride about the expansion of the career technical education (CTE) class offerings. CTE classes are dual-credit classes allowing students to earn college level credit while earning credits that meet high school graduation requirements. Each CTE class is a two-period blocked class on topics applicable to the student’s chosen career path.

One example is the biomedical innovation and health careers strand—now in its fourth year—which is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in health-related fields and provides opportunities to shadow professionals and work with mentors. Upon completion, the students have certifications in CPR and medical terminology.

There are two new programs also being offered to juniors and seniors, Manahan said.

The teacher academy offered at Gig Harbor High School provides opportunities to shadow teachers, gain experience in classrooms working with children, design learning projects and earn paraeducator certification.

The newest CTE class is the skilled trades pre-apprenticeship class, which will be piloted at Peninsula High School in the fall. The class will be open for juniors and seniors with at least a 90 percent attendance record. The course is a two-period blocked class that involves OSHA 10, CPR/first aid, forklift, scissor lift, flagger, apprenticeship tours, construction site tours and skilled trades modules in construction, masonry, plumbing, electrical work and welding. When students graduate from high school, they can go into a full apprenticeship and be better equipped to be successful. Manahan hopes that the program facilities can be made available for night school classes for adults interested in entering the trades.

Manahan has come full circle, he said. Beginning his teaching career in Puyallup, he came to the Peninsula School District in 1991 and taught at both Kopachuck and Harbor Ridge Middle Schools. His administration internship was at Harbor Ridge and his first job in administration was in Port Angeles. He was hired as an elementary principal in Lake Stevens and worked into the position of executive director of secondary education. Leaving Lake Stevens, he took a job as superintendent in Lake Chelan and was there for six years before being hired as superintendent of Peninsula School District.

Manahan’s ties to the district are deep in a familial way, too. He has two grandchildren attending Voyager Elementary School and his daughter-in-law, Erika Griswold, teaches in the options program at Vaughn Elementary School. Griswold laughed when asked what it was like to work for her father-in-law. “It’s a lot of pressure,” she said. “Everyone I’ve talked to really likes him.”


The trades program is made possible through a partnership with Sound Transit and will be an affiliate of the Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women program. For more information, go to