MIHS interim principal ‘likes change,’ is well traveled

Pat Blix is the interim high school principal. - Linda Ball/Staff Photo
Pat Blix is the interim high school principal.
— image credit: Linda Ball/Staff Photo

When Mercer Island High School principal John Harrison took a job in administration with the Bellevue School District, superintendent Gary Plano had to work fast to find an interim principal.

Pat Blix, who served as an interim principal at West Mercer Elementary from 2006 to 2008, seemed a likely choice.

But there was one problem.

She was leaving for Guatemala for a Spanish immersion study in two days. Plano got hold of her the night before she left. After six weeks in Guatemala, she cut her trip in half to come back and start work.

Blix is not interested in the permanent position; she considers herself retired.

She has had a long and eventful career in education. From 1988 to 1998 she was the principal at McKnight Middle School in Renton. From 1998 to 2001 she took a job as a middle school principal in Tel Aviv, Israel, before heading off to London for three years to be the principal at the American Community School.

Before coming back to Mercer Island, from 2004 to 2006, she was the middle school principal at the International School in Manila, Philippines.

“I chose international positions for the variety because I like change,” Blix said.

Blix will finish out the this school year at MIHS, working until July 1, when a new principal is expected to be in place. Blix will not be a part of the interview process, but she will help the new principal transition into the job. Her plan is to keep things moving, with no big shake-ups.

“I realize this has been very unsettling for the school,” she said. “My mandate is to keep the school operating as it is.”

She said some of the kids are a little uneasy because they had bonded with Harrison. To smooth over the transition, she will be “very present” in the building.

She said she is in the hallway when the kids come in, and attends one of the two lunches each day.

“Wonderful things are happening in this building,” Blix said. “I am going to have a lot of face time with the kids.”

Plano intends to post a job announcement and have the principal’s advisory committee review it. The plan is to advertise the position nationwide for about six weeks after the first of the year, Plano said.

He’s not looking for a retired administrator; rather, someone who is currently employed and engaged. He said assistant principals are a good choice, but usually they’re waiting for the opportunity to rise within their own school.

Plano said no one has stepped forward yet to express interest in the permanent position. He said the interview process is planned for the third week of February, with selection in March.

The interview team will be made up of equal parts of staff and community members, including a few who don’t have kids in the schools now, but are active in the community, Blix said.

During her time as interim, Blix plans to spotlight the high school’s ongoing effort to maintain the school’s green status. Currently there is some confusion in the lunchroom about what goes where in the recycling bins. Blix said about three-quarters of the kids are doing the right thing, but the other 25 percent are confused. She hopes to clarify the confusion.

Plano said in talking to the kids at MIHS, they don’t seem to be affected by the change because change is part of life. He said students are more concerned about the heat in the building, the lunchroom issues and next year’s schedule.


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