When Peninsula School District (PSD) Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto announced his retirement last year, the school board found itself with a big addition to its job description: hiring his replacement. And now, following a nearly seven-month process, they can declare their mission accomplished.
Rob Manahan, who has served as the superintendent of the Lake Chelan School District for the past six years, will take over July 1. He has been a certified classroom teacher, has a Master of Arts in school administration and a doctorate in education.
Monahan has deep ties to the area. He taught sixth through eighth grades in this district and completed his administrative internship at Harbor Ridge Middle School. His wife, a social worker, worked in family outreach at Henderson Bay High School and as a counselor at Peninsula High. Two grandchildren attend school in the district, and his daughter-in-law teaches at Vaughn Elementary.
When asked what drew him to apply for the position, Manahan replied, “Peninsula has always been on my radar. I have roots here.” He was tempted to apply five years ago, but he had only been at Lake Chelan for a year and felt strongly that he needed to fulfill at least a three- to five-year commitment there. When the Peninsula job opened again this year, the time was right.
Manahan has mixed feelings about leaving Lake Chelan. He describes it as a great community with strong support and with challenges, especially with economic diversity, which allowed for creativity in improving student success.
He is excited to bring what he learned in his current position to this community. One of his challenges will be to see whether he can bring the successes he had working in a small district to a larger one.
He describes his leadership style as collaborative and relationship-based. In a letter to PSD, he wrote: “…schools and districts with high levels of collaboration and teamwork made greater gains than schools/districts where teachers and staff worked in isolation. This work of education is complex, everchanging and extremely challenging and difficult. We cannot do this alone. I need you and we need each other to tap into the ‘Wisdom in the Room’ and find the solutions that fit the needs of those we work with—students and colleagues.”
Rand Wilhelmsen, the school board president, said the board was unanimous in its decision to offer Manahan the position. “We had four highly qualified finalists, each with different strengths. It came down to fit, and Rob Manahan fit all our criteria,” he said. “I think he will be amazing. He understands both of our peninsulas.”
Manahan will officially begin as superintendent July 1, after completing his final year at Lake Chelan. But to assure a smooth transition, he has scheduled 18 days with PSD between now and his official start date. He will meet with staff, core groups and members of the community and plans a meeting on the Key Peninsula either before or shortly after his start date.