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New superintendent at Hood Canal schools

The Hood Canal School District opens its doors Sept. 7 to about 335 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, and with a new superintendent in Jose-de-Jesus Melendez.

Melendez - who grew up in a Mexican village of about 50 people in the state of Zacatecaz - replaces Nikki Grubbs, who was hired as assistant superintendent in the North Thurston School District. He has been a teacher, principal, program director and superintendent in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

"My experience preparing for this school year as a superintendent has been a very busy one," he wrote in an email to the Journal. "My year started with hiring two school administrators and I have been spending time onboarding with the community, our staff and our school board."

Students will be greeted with a new HVAC system installed throughout the building.

"This will be a relief for our students who had to come to the start of the school year in a hot and at times very humid school building," Melendez wrote.

Melendez states the goals for the district this year include improving literacy through five pillars: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. The goals also include improving communication from the administration, teachers, school board and superintendent; improving student attendance; and improving district culture by building trust, compassion, honesty and transparency.

From 1993 to 1997, Melendez studied on a scholarship at Eastern Oregon University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and teaching. He later completed a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Boise State University, and from Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, certifications as a principal and a superintendent and a Master's degree in instructional leadership.

Melendez's first job was teaching kindergarten in Ontario, Oregon. That's where he piloted the district's first dual-language program.

His 26-year career include stints as a school principal in Grand Junction, Colorado, Meridian, Idaho and Eagle Point, Oregon; the director of equity, diversity and inclusion in the Bellevue School District; director of languages and equity in the Franklin Pierce School District; and superintendent of the Kahlotus School District in southeastern Washington.

Melendez was the director of student success in the La Grande School District in Oregon until plummeting attendance caused by COVID forced the school district to eliminate his position. Then he saw the posting for the job on Hood Canal.

The school board has a vacancy representing District 3. Residents of the Skokomish Valley can email a letter of interest and a resume to Susan Vining at [email protected].

The district has bond and replacement levy votes on the February ballot.

Winter break begins Dec. 19. Spring break is April 3-7, and the last day of school is scheduled for June 16.

Author Bio

Gordon Weeks, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald


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