The Peninsula School District board of directors unanimously voted to hire Krestin Bahr as superintendent during a live-streamed special meeting March 19. Bahr, superintendent of Eatonville School District since 2013, will succeed Dr. Art Jarvis, who has served as interim PSD superintendent since 2018, when he steps down July 1.
The PSD board sought input on its search for a new superintendent last fall, asking parents and community members to participate in surveys asking what qualities they wanted in their next district leader.
PSD also hired the executive search firm NW Leadership Associates in October to find candidates for the position. Twenty-nine applications were winnowed to five semi-finalists interviewed March 13. The two finalists, Bahr and South Kitsap School District Superintendent Tim Winter, returned for a full day of interviews with board and staff, in addition to an interview with the public.
Board Chair David Olson said they would have felt fortunate to work with either finalist. Winter was well-known and liked by many in the community. He taught at Peninsula High School and served as its principal for seven years before leaving to become superintendent of Clarkston and later South Kitsap School Districts.
“We ultimately chose the candidate with a proven track record of transformative and inspiring leadership, leading to greater outcomes for students and growth opportunities for staff,” Olson stated in a press release. “Krestin Bahr is very aware of and committed to bringing our community together to build a vision and strategic plan that grows an educational environment, which prepares all students for life beyond the Peninsula School District.”
Bahr graduated from Pacific Lutheran University 35 years ago and spent more than a decade as a science teacher with the Tacoma School District, first in what was then junior high and then in high school. “I was hired as the ninth-grade health and science teacher. But really, I think I got the job because I said I would coach gymnastics and put on the school play,” she said during her introductory comments at the public interview. “I spent 10 years in middle schools really understanding teaching and learning. I found out I didn’t know much when I got out of school,” she said.
Bahr taught AP biology, physics and chemistry at the high school level. She received grants to work on vertical integration of curriculum; with that work she got excited about leadership and sought further training.
Her first administrative job was assistant principal of a middle school. “I went from being a beloved teacher to being responsible for discipline,” she said. She went on to serve as a middle school principal and then took on other leadership roles in the TSD. She completed her superintendent certification in 2011.
As superintendent of Eatonville School District she implemented changes including new STEM programs, expanding career and technical education options, and creating outdoor learning opportunities through partnerships. She served as president of the Washington Association of School Administrators last year and is co-chair of the WASA Women in Leadership Committee. She is also a member of the governing board of the School Superintendents Association.
During her pubic interview, Bahr was asked about repairing relationships with those who have lost trust in the district. “Trust is built over time. What I know about repairing anything is that relationships matter, and it takes work. Meet me. Let’s get to know each other. I am a leader that listens and partners with families,” she said. “The pandemic has been a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. Let’s not waste that. Leading during chaos and uncertainty demands that leaders are vulnerable enough to speak the truth, and we will need to do things differently.”
She said her commitment to PSD is for nine or 10 years. “I want to move to Peninsula. I am not a superintendent who will come here and want to leave in three years. I fall in love with people. It’s the benefit. It’s my passion. I don’t come and go.”
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