MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon High School’s new principal is a familiar face.

After spending last year as the school’s interim principal, Terri Wattawa heads into the new school year having had the “interim” label dropped.

With essentially one year under her belt, Wattawa said she’s ready to go.

“What I’m looking to do is to reach out and work for our students to make sure they have the options and the resources that they’ll need,” she said.

Wattawa came to Mount Vernon from Phoenix, where she was a science teacher before becoming an assistant principal and a principal.

“I enjoy science because I think it ties in many other disciplines,” she said.

One of the reasons she was excited for a job prospect in Washington was because when it came to public education she felt Washington more closely aligned with her values.

One interview was all it took for her to decide she wanted the job, especially after speaking with her student guide.

“In talking to him, I realized I was exactly where I wanted to be,” she said. “And where I needed to be.”

The passion of the staff and the students struck her immediately, she said.

“The teachers want students to see their inherent value, but also have the confidence to be able to challenge inequities when they see them,” Wattawa said. “The kids in Mount Vernon are resilient and forward thinking. I don’t think they look at the world through rose-colored glasses, but they know they can make change and are excited for it.”

While last year may have been a transition year for Wattawa, this year will be one of transition for the high school as a whole as the district embarks on the next phases of its five-part construction project, which will mean construction at the school.

While it may pose some inconveniences, it’s nothing Wattawa said the school community shouldn’t be able to handle.

One year in, the district’s tradition of being progressive, including being an early adopter of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, is something she has come to value.

Wattawa said she and her daughter, who will be attending Western Washington University to study teaching, moved to the area last year. Wattawa’s husband and son will be joining her this year, with her son attending the high school.

“There’s a lot of history here,” she said of the school and the community. “I adore it.”

She’ll also be able to settle into a new friendly rivalry, as Burlington-Edison High School is also welcoming a new principal.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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