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Principal Message

A Welcome from Peter Donovan

Arbor Heights Community,

It is with excitement and joy to introduce myself as Arbor Heights Elementary’s acting principal for the 2021–22 school year. Principal Collins is taking time to take care of herself. I am honored she asked me to take the principalship. I want to acknowledge her commitment to and many accomplishments at Arbor Heights. She was the driving force that resulted in this beautiful building. Over her years at Arbor Heights, the community has grown in size and the traditional academic measures, which is in great part due to her leadership. As many of you know, I had the great fortune to complete my internship with Principal Collins in the 2016–17 school year. I know firsthand that these are big shoes to fill, and the staff, administration, families, and students will guide me along the way. There may be some surprise or feelings of loss to embrace this shift of leadership — I will do my best to continue with her traditions of excellence and transparency through regular communications with the community.

For folks who don’t know me, I have most recently been the assistant principal at Fairmount Park Elementary with Julie Breidenbach, who, like Principal Collins, is a legend in Seattle. I have learned from the best. Before my tenure at Fairmount Park, I was a consultant coach, supporting teachers and principals across the district. As a teacher, I fell in love with teaching math, and that love still glows in my heart.

I am looking forward to welcoming back our Jr. Seahawks to the building. My focus this year will be on the social-emotional well-being of our students and our staff while staying focused on learning. Without that, we can’t begin to think about anything else.

I am fortunate that Principal Collins and Assistant Principal Castañeda have spent many hours setting the school up for success. Many of the systems required for opening the school year are in place. Over the last few weeks, we have been in tight communication to get me up to speed. The safety and welfare of your student are our paramount concern. I will be sending several communications soon about the specifics, including drop-off times, lunch/recess plans, and specific protocols to keep our students safe.

A little bit about me: as I already stated, I love teaching math, watching kids get excited about learning, and telling corny jokes. I’ve been a resident of Seattle for 30 years, and I grew up in Steilacoom just south of Tacoma. I recently bought a home in West Seattle, so I have set down roots on this side of the water. As such, I have been riding my bike to work and plan to continue.

Our new superintendent has set a challenge for us to embrace the “audacity to create joy.” I am on board. We are all considering the uncertainties of what is in front of us. I am here for it. We will follow district, state, and CDC guidelines while continuing to keep learning and joy at the forefront of our mission. Our community has grown and evolved even in the short time since my internship here. I am committed to ensuring that all our members feel valued, whether you have your first pre-kindergarten student with us or you are one of our legacy families with your last 5th grader.

We will be having a virtual curriculum night (date TBD), and I will be meeting with kindergarten families this week during the virtual kindergarten open house. I invite you to attend those sessions to ask questions and virtually meet me. For our students in grades 1–5, school starts on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 7:55 a.m. (Pre-K and K officially begin on Monday, Sept. 9 at 7:55 a.m. ). I will be at the front of the school, greeting students and meeting families. I’ll be the one wearing the suit and the coordinated mask.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve this community, and I am looking forward to meeting your student and you.

Peter Donovan