Plano announces new elementary principals

Elizabeth Celms
Mercer Island Reporter

Newly appointed Superintendent Gary Plano has announced Richard Mellish as the new permanent principal of West Mercer Elementary and Nancy Loorem as the principal of Island Park Elementary. Finding a permanent principal for each school was Plano's first task as superintendent of the Mercer Island School District.

Loorem has been acting as interim principal for Island Park since October. Pat Blix has been directing West Mercer as interim for two years.

Plano announced the news today in a press release. The positions will be officially announced at tomorrow's School Board meeting, Thursday, April 10.

"I am so very pleased to have these two remarkable individuals join us in our work in support of our students," Plano said in the press release.

Mellish has served as the principal of Schmitz Park Elementary School since 2001. He holds a master's degree from the University of Washington with a focus in curriculum and instruction and English as a second language, as well as a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington with certification in history and math. Prior to being principal of Schmitz Park, Mellish taught history and math at Ballard High School. Among other distinctions, he is recipient of the National Association of Elementary School Principals' Distinguished Elementary Principal for the Year award for Seattle 2007-2008.

Loorem, now a well-known face in the district, holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from the UW. She also holds a master's degree specializing in elementary instructional leadership and administration from Western Washington University. Before taking on the responsibilities of principal at Island Park, Loorem worked in the Bellevue School District for 23 years as an elementary school teacher, principal, executive director for education and assistant superintendent.

“I can’t seem to hear enough good things about Island Park,” Loorem said upon accepting her position as interim principal last October. “I’m so delighted to be a part of this school.”

Mellish and Blix will be asked to formally accept their positions at tomorrow's School Board meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the administration building. Plano's next task is to find a permanent director of testing for the district. Sharon Gillaspie, who currently holds the position, will be retiring this year.

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