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Principal Appreciation Month
Celebrated every October, National Principals Month is an opportunity to celebrate and honor our incredible school principals for their leadership and tireless pursuit of success for each student. We have nine principals across our district that we are highlighting throughout the month of October on our social media. Read about each of our principals and why they love being principals:
Nikkii Mesa, Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary School Principal
Picture text: "I am so grateful to be the principal at Ptarmigan Ridge. I love that I get to come to work every day and see the amazing things happening in classrooms and around the school. The best part of being a principal is the opportunity to work with dedicated staff members and the ability to serve the students, staff and community to ensure all students meet their full potential."
Nikkii Mesa was hired this past year to be the Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary principal. Mesa brings 18 years of experience, including 11 support students in grades 4 through 6 in regular and special education working at Bethel and Kent School District. In addition, Mesa is a 13-year senior, meaning her entire k-12 education was at OSD, graduating from OHS in 1999.
Nita Hill, Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary School Assistant Principal
Picture text: "One thing I really love about being an assistant principal is having the opportunity to elevate and celebrate work that teachers do daily to help students achieve their goals. The opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, especially in our small community, is really exciting and I feel lucky to have this opportunity."
Nita Hill has over 23 years of experience and started her career as a school counselor in a small school district. After working in a bigger district, Hill came to OSD as an administrative intern and knew right away that Orting was the place for her to begin the next step in her journey.
Kevin Collins, Orting Middle School Principal
Picture text: "I love being a principal because I have the opportunity to lead an amazing staff, all working toward the common goal of helping students grow and learn. It is also thrilling to be in a role that can have such a positive impact on the community, because when our school is successful, the Orting community will also thrive."
Kevin Collins grew up in Pendleton, Oregon and attended Gonzaga University, majoring in history. After college, Collins served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, supporting the efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. After he returned to the U.S., Collins decided to pursue a career as a social studies teacher and spent 10 years in the Kent School District. He then earned his administration credentials and came to Orting Middle School in the fall of 2017 to be the assistant principal. In July 2021, Collins became the principal of OMS and is extremely proud to be a Falcon!
Earle McWright, Orting Middle School Assistant Principal
Picture text: "I enjoy the challenges as an administrator of developing whole systems that benefit kids and provide opportunities for the greatest of student outcomes. Orting Middle School and the whole Orting community has been such an enjoyable place to pursue these goals."
Earle McWright spent an equal amount of time growing up in Dallas and in Tacoma. After receiving his teaching certificate from Pacific Lutheran University in 2007, he taught algebra and coached basketball and tennis at Washington High School. He received his masters degree and administration certification from the University of Washington and beginning in 2017, served as an assistant principal for Keithley Middle School.
Cliff Fries, Orting High School Principal
Picture text: "I love serving our community in the role of principal. I am constantly humbled by the amazing staff, the support from our village, and the exceptional students that I get to see every day here in Orting."
Cliff Fries started his career in Orting as an English teacher, and in 2014, he moved to being a part-time teacher and spent the rest of his day supporting teachers with instructional technology across the district. In 2016, Fries became the assistant principal at OHS, and in 2017 he became the principal. Outside of the classroom, Fries spent the better part of his career coaching the boys' and girls' soccer programs as well as numerous other sports throughout the district.
Tia-Michelle Marquez, Orting High School Assistant Principal
Picture text: "I enjoy interacting with all students and working with them and their teachers to ensure they have a memorable and successful high school experience and that they are prepared to become citizens of the world after they leave our schools."
Tia-Michelle Marquez recently joined us this past school year after coming from Spanaway Lake High School. Marquez grew up in Hawaii and earned her Bachelor of Education in Secondary Education and Masters in Education in Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu. She has served in those areas in a variety of positions, including being a history and social studies teacher, student activities coordinator and assistant principal. Marquez says she wanted to work at OHS because Orting reminds her of her home in Hawaii and loves the small-town community vibes.
Matt Carlson, Orting High School Assistant Principal and Career and Technical Education Director
Picture text: "It is an honor to serve the students and families in the community I live in as a school leader. I get to work with incredible staff members at OHS, and being able to support their efforts for our students, regardless of the capacity they work in, is one of my favorite things about being a school administrator."
Matt Carlson has made Orting his home; his wife is a teacher at Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary School and his kids are all students in Orting School District. Carlson became the OHS assistant principal in July 2019 after starting his career in Orting as a counselor. Carlson is proud to be a Cardinal and is committed to the long-term success of the leadership team in the OHS community. Thank you, Carlson, for all that you do!
Christi Ellenwood, Orting Primary School Principal
Picture text: "I love being an elementary principal and getting to connect with students to watch them learn and grow over time. Getting to spend time in every classroom with every staff member is a privilege as we help build a community of learners."
Chrisiti Ellenwood came to Orting in 2019 as the Principal of Orting Primary School. Before coming to Orting, she served in the White River School District for eleven years at Elk Ridge Elementary School. Prior to being a principal, she was a teacher at Mountain Meadow Elementary in the White River School District for seven years as well.
Erynn Alvers, Orting Primary School Assistant Principal
Picture text: "One of my favorite professors in college always said 'you can't teach children how to move mountains until you first get them to move out of their chairs'. I have thought about this quote so often throughout my career, and being an elementary assistant principal lets me blend student excitement and early childhood intervention every single day."
Erynn Alvers spent the last 20 years as a school counselor in the Puyallup School District before coming to Orting Primary School as the assistant principal. Alvers attended Central Washington University for her undergraduate degree in Psychology and her masters degree in Child and Family Counseling.