How should the Peninsula’s next superintendent lead the school district?
Ocean Beach School District selected Amy Huntley at a Jan. 10 meeting.
Following is a condensed version of Huntley’s job interview.
Who is Amy Huntley?
Huntley began her teaching career in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood.
“I was offered a job but I really wanted to work in a small town and raise my son in a small town,” Huntley said.
Huntley has lived on the Peninsula for 25 years. She’s worked in a variety of roles at OBSD such as teacher, junior and senior academic adviser, Title I director, and interim principal at Hilltop Middle School. Most recently, Huntley has worked as the district’s director of student learning and principal of Ocean Beach Alternative School.
Three of Huntley’s children are OBSD students. Her oldest is a Ilwaco High School graduate, she said.
Understanding where people come from and knowing community member concerns are two of Huntley’s core values, she said.
“Philosophically, leaders should be very collaborative,” Huntley said. “On the ground, sometimes that’s hard to do. Whenever possible, I like to do that.”
Huntley said her coworkers would describe her as dogged.
“I like to be focused and on task, moving forward,” Huntley said. “I don’t like to sit still and chat.”
If hired as superintendent, Huntley would work with other district leaders to consistently accomplish what the district’s goals.
“A collaborative effort on everything we do is key,” Huntley said.
Why she wants to be superintendent
“To be honest, I was hoping to not do this for a few years but sometimes life calls you to action for situations before you’re ready,” Huntley said. “I’ve lived here 25 years. I’m committed to the community and district.
Since the 1970s, the longest term a superintendent has served OBSD is seven years, Huntley said.
“There’s been positives in that where people bring in new ideas but it’s bad when they leave after three years,” Huntley said. “Those ideas get started but not implemented and we’re left with a lot of half-done initiatives.
Huntley said she wants to see the district move forward slowly but steadily, while carrying forth its current initiatives.
“I hope to carry those through for my kids and the kids of the district,” Huntley said.
How Huntley would approach the job
Huntley’s original degree was in theater arts. Because of this, she got experience working as a stage manager, which relates to running a school district, she said.
Huntley emphasized the importance of communication between her, the school board and the community.
“It’s important for the school board to have a vision, focus on that and work closely with the superintendent,” Huntley said. “The worst thing is the board getting hit with things they weren’t aware of and the community being caught off guard.”
As superintendent, there are things Huntley wouldn’t be able to do because she has young children, she said.
“As my kids age and get a little older, I can see myself joining more committees,” Huntley said. “Right now my role would be to go and participate as needed.”
Huntley said she’d hold a presence throughout the district by going to school events and keeping the community, especially parents, informed on what the district is up to.
“Parents are key. They love our kids,” Huntley said. “I don’t know any parents who don’t want their kids to have a better life than they do.”
Huntley would continue meeting families where they are to help them reach their potential, she said.
Past budget management experience
Between grants, federal and state funds, Huntley manages about a $1.5 million budget for the district.
“I believe in being fiscally conservative,” Huntley said. “It’s okay to have a little extra money but not to run out.”
Huntley said it’s important for district leaders to learn what’s happening with the different budgets the district gets money from so the district can understand all aspects of where money is coming and going from.
What she’s learned from Scott Fenter
Interim OBSD Superintendent Scott Fenter has guided Huntley through his decision-making process and the outcomes. He’s also acted as Huntley’s mentor.
“I’ve learned a ton from Scott,” Huntley said. “He’s walked me through everything he can think of.”
Huntley said she hopes Fenter would continue to be her mentor.