Chiawana High School's first and only principal to date told her staff Friday that she had accepted a new position and will be leaving the Pasco School District at the end of June.
Teri Kessie has accepted a new job with Educational Service District 123, which supports schools in 23 regional school districts and provides access to state and national educational programs. She will be the director of school and student success.
"It's been a very difficult decision to make," she said. "I feel like I'm leaving not only my footprint but my heart print."
She was selected as the principal of Chiawana High six years ago and spent her first two years as principal there researching, planning and dreaming about Chiawana as Pasco's second high school morphed from a mound of dirt to a two-story, 340,000-square-foot building.
She hired the staff, held training sessions and set policy before the school opened its doors to students in fall 2009.
On June 1, the first class to attend high school all four years at Chiawana will graduate.
"So I graduate with the babies I brought in," Kessie said.
She's a longtime Tri-City educator, but after 32 years in education she has not seen a staff as committed and dedicated to helping kids learn better than those at Chiawana, she said.
Kessie expects her new job to be challenging, "but apparently, I'm meant to do new things," she said.
She'll help shape her new position, which will provide program development and support for schools implementing new programs.
That includes the Common Core State Standards for language arts, literacy and mathematics and two other state programs under federal direction. She'll help with a new, more rigorous evaluation process for teachers and principals and more rigorous assessments of students that will replace some current standardized tests.
Kessie said she is concerned about the possibility of good people burning out and is interested in helping decrease the time the new initiatives require of individual educators.
The Pasco School District has not announced its plans to fill Kessie's position at Chiawana.