Trillium Creek Principal Jim Mangan says he only would have left his previous school if it was for the perfect situation. A principal in the Centennial School District for the past four years, he says the decision to leave View Elementary School was the hardest professional decision of his career.
But, he says, Trillium Creek was that perfect situation, and since accepting the position Aug. 1, Mangan says he's enjoyed every second of his new school. From meeting staff and learning the building to meeting students and parents at a back-to-school open house Aug. 24, Mangan says he feels lucky to call Trillium Creek is his new home.
"This is a special place. It's extremely welcoming and incredibly generous in helping people out," he says. "I really feel that I've won the lottery by being selected as the principal here. It's not only a beautiful building but an incredible group of people across the board."
Mangan is originally from Southern California, but spent much of his childhood taking camping trips up to the Pacific Northwest. He says he always had a special appreciation for Oregon, and wanted to move to the state up north as soon as he could.
"I consider myself from Oregon in that I came up here to go to the University of Oregon. I fell in love with the state as a kid and always knew it was the right place. I've had no regrets," Mangan says.
Mangan spent 21 years as a classroom teacher after college — including first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth grades — before taking an assistant principal position in the St. Helens School District. He's spent the past four years, meanwhile, as principal of View Elementary School, formerly known as Lynch View Elementary. While he loves his work as a principal, it's the work in the classroom that he's always been most passionate about.
"I was very happy in the classroom. I even think about someday going back and maybe finishing my career as an elementary school teacher because I loved it, loved every minute of it," Mangan says. "I didn't leave the classroom because I was burnt out as a teacher, I just felt I could have a larger impact as a school leader."
He certainly made an impact at View Elementary, taking the school from a Level 2 school to a Level 4 school in terms of the Oregon Department of Education's Report Card during his tenure. He says he was originally going to spend another year or two at View, but that Trillium Creek was too good to pass up. He was drawn to the West Linn-Wilsonville School District's leadership team at the administration level as well as the wealth of resources at his disposal.
"I wasn't ready to leave my previous job at Centennial but they made it so darn enticing that I just couldn't say no," Magnan says. "The Superintendent Kathy Ludwig and the Assistant Superintendent of Primary Schools David Pryor, we had several conversations and I was just so impressed with them as people and with them as leaders. I was impressed with the direction that this district is going in, the reputation of West Linn-Wilsonville and the commitment of everybody involved."
Mangan says he's particularly excited about his current staff at Trillium Creek, and hopes to further the district's mission of supporting every single student in the school district. He believes in shared leadership, empowering teachers to bring their own ideas to the table and be leaders in the classroom.
"The way we achieved growth at View Elementary was by working together, so I definitely believe in that shared leadership model," he says. "I think the key to any successful organization is really listening to the people who have been committed to that organization, even prior to me coming to Trillium."
Mangan says he's excited to collaborate with other district principals, particularly Sara McCarney at Stafford Primary and Patrick Minor at Willamette Primary, who are in his leadership triad. Professional growth was another key factor in his decision to come to Trillium, which he says he's excited to jump into straight away.
"I'm a lifelong learner going into my 29th year as a public educator, and I continue to have a hunger for learning," he says. "I don't have aspirations of moving up to a different administrative position, but I do want to continue growing as a principal and school leader."
Mangan has leaned on his past experiences in his first few weeks at Trillium Creek, but says the transition hasn't been hard considering the level of achievement the school has had in years past. But there's always room for improvement, and Mangan is excited about future opportunities for growth.
"I plan to be here for several, several years," Mangan says. "The assets that this place has going for it, the PTA, staff, the involvement of families, those are all great things. Now how can we leverage those assets and make little improvements to make sure each and every student has the opportunity to meet and exceed their potential? That's it. That's what I hope we can accomplish."