The challenger wants the district to build a strategic plan with community input.
Gig Harbor resident Natalie Wimberley is seeking election to the Peninsula School District Board of Directors, Position 4, an office that represents southwest Gig Harbor, Artondale and Fox Island.
Wimberley grew up in a military family and later married an Air Force pilot, giving her many opportunities for travel inside and outside the United States. After her husband Heath’s retirement, the couple began searching for a place to put down roots, and stumbled on Gig Harbor through the Internet.
“We happened upon a video on YouTube that the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce had put out,” Wimberley said. “I was drawn to the weather, the water, the trees and all the green here.” After touring the community Wimberley, her husband and her three sons settled down near Kopachuck State Park two years ago.
“I’ve really seen some struggles on a leadership level in communication with the board and the leadership.”
As her children have moved through Peninsula schools, Wimberley has served in several volunteer roles. She is currently a member of the executive board for the Gig Harbor Tides Scholarship Foundation. Close experience with the district’s successes and setbacks inspired Wimberley to consider running for the PSD board. “Over the couple of years that we’ve been here we’ve had some fantastic, caring teachers,” said Wimberley, who also praised the district’s diversity of opportunities and its expectations for students. “But on the flipside, I’ve really seen some struggles on a leadership level in communication with the board and the leadership.” Wimberley has also seen the district working through student wellness issues and attempting to find a new superintendent.
As part of addressing these challenges, Wimberley would like to see the district build a strategic plan with input from community task groups. This plan, along with identifying and hiring a new PSD superintendent to relieve Interim Superintendent Art Jarvis, are Wimberley’s two main priorities for the future.
Once strategic planning and secure leadership have been established, Wimberley said there are specific areas where the district can improve. She would like to see more focus on math for students preparing for advanced study and a greater connection with local businesses for those on a vocational path. For future trades workers, Wimberley suggested building a connection with major industries in the area. “We could build something at a local level here that allows students to enter an aviation mechanic licensure program, for example, and upon graduation…walk across the street to Boeing or Alaska or Horizon.”
A goal with personal significance to Wimberley is the establishment of a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for the district. “It’s something that I felt was missing when we came here,” said Wimberley, whose family participated in JROTC in New Mexico. “We’ve got a lot of support,” she said, citing enthusiasm from parents, school staff and local legislators. “I haven’t spoken with one person who does not support this program.”
Wimberley said that her diverse history with education makes her a good fit for the PSD board. After living and volunteering in several different locations, Wimberley said that she’s experienced “the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful in public education.” Before moving to Gig Harbor, Wimberley was employed as a military community liaison for Alamogordo Public Schools in New Mexico. “During those years I learned a lot about every aspect of public education, and I’m just excited to bring that recent and relevant experience to PSD.”