Meet John Green, Our Interim Principal

Meet John Green, Our Interim Principal

This August, many Shorecrest students were surprised to hear that our principal would be changing. For anyone who missed the email, Ms. González has moved into her new role as the Executive Director of Student Learning at Edmonds School District. I think I speak for most of the student body when I say that I’m happy for her, but we’re absolutely going to miss her. 

Replacing her for this year, until the district selects a new permanent principal for next year, is interim principal John Green. He’s eminently qualified for the position; he’s held a number of administrative positions over the years, including as principal of Shorewood and, more recently, a variety of interim positions. I’m confident that he’ll do a good job leading the school this year. 

But who is Mr. Green? What’s he like? What can we expect from him this year? I had a brief conversation with him to find out.


What are your goals and priorities as a principal?

Well, I’m an interim principal, so my goals right now are the goals of the building. They were largely established last year in the school improvement plan. Those were our formal goals, and so those are my goals right now. I think it’s my job as interim principal to pick those up and work with the staff to move them forward.

I know things will come up during the year that will end up being my decision or the decision of this administrative team. I always try to reflect back on where I think this year started and continue in the direction that the staff and the administrative team last year wanted to. But there could be times when we could make a different kind of decision and return back on something, to make a decision this way or that way, and then that’s something where my ideas and my thoughts about education could play into. So I’m not saying I’m not an actor or leader. As a principal, I’ve tried to do the best I can with the rest of this administrative team. They’re really great. Fantastic. To move forward. I fully believed when I got here, I knew because I’ve been here twice over the last three years, I knew where things were headed. And I talked to Ms. González before she left. She twisted my arm into doing this. And I was pretty pleased to see, not surprised, but pleased to see how things had been set up. So those are my goals. And I think I’m a really good fit with where this staff had gone through a process last year to set up the goals around equity and education. And I’m right there.


How long are you going to be here, if you’re interim principal?

One year. So I’m not counting the months or anything. But that’s what I’ve been doing for the last six years. I retired from Shorewood, and in 2007, I worked at Seattle University for 10 years. And then I left there because Shoreline called and wanted me to fill in for a semester here. And I’ve just been doing that ever since.


What do you want students to know about you?

That I see my job as having what’s best for students in mind first, best for students and families, but the same thing. Sometimes that might be working with students, like “these things don’t work here because it’s not what’s best for all students here, so we’re going to have to talk about changing some things.” Sometimes that’s just making decisions that are like, “here are things that we’re doing, and let’s take a careful look at this and make sure this is the best thing for students.” That’s a large statement, what’s best for students. But that’s why I’m an educator. That’s why I’ve always been student-forward. I’ve always leaned into what students think. I’ve always leaned into thinking about what their experiences are.

What are your favorite things about Shorecrest?

So, my favorite thing about Shorecrest. And I’m watching this year, and I’ve said a lot of things about, how we’re doing better. I wasn’t here last year to know what better is. But my favorite thing about Shorecrest, I learned in 2016. I knew before, even when I was at Shorewood, that the students here pull towards the center. And students have told me that this year, we really like it here. We really like it here because we know everybody, and everybody knows everybody else, and it’s not super cliquey. 

When I was at Shorewood, the kids there were great too. But there were a group of students who had really high academic goals. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? And they pulled this way. And they and their families wanted to get into the best colleges they could. And then they pulled another group of students, a smaller group, that way too. So there was a group here. And there were students that didn’t necessarily feel like that, didn’t see that. And they were kind of here. And it wasn’t a clique, and it wasn’t a divide, but it wasn’t people pulling to the center. They were kind of different groups. And that didn’t ever cause a problem. But I could feel that when I was there. 

A staff member who I worked with at Shorewood saw me the first day I was on campus here and said, “You’re gonna love it.” And I said, “More than Shorewood?” She said, “Guarantee it.” And she was right. So I like that. That’s my favorite thing, is I like that students pull together to the center. And I think that’s an identifying thing here. I’ve been kind of watching that this year, after a year and a half off and all the stuff that went on. I mean, pep assemblies, I mean, do they represent a school? But the two pep assemblies I’ve seen, I’ve thought have been fantastic. Everybody was having fun, showing each other and showing the teams and performing groups and it didn’t seem like there was anything about that that wasn’t just fun in the student body together. So that’s the first thing.

I have a great relationship with the staff here. I’ve been here a year and a half. And I knew when thinking about taking this job for a year, I knew that would play out for the staff and for me. I’m not Lisa González. And I think she’s the best principal I’ve ever worked with. But I knew that I could picture a staff member and know what room they were in, know what they were about, and remember conversations I had with them. So I felt that there is a level of trust and a good match there. You know, if I was going to go into Marysville High School, I wouldn’t know anybody, and it would be hard and maybe even lonely for a while. But I really like and respect the staff here. So that’s my second thing. 

And the third thing that I love about Shorecrest, and it’s true district-wide: I saw it at Einstein; I felt it at Kellogg, is that by and large, and this goes back to 2000 when I started at Shorewood, the families here believe that schools have value. And then they send students to school with that family belief. I mean, this is a big American high school, there’s everything going on here. But by and large students come from families that have respect and see value in the schools, and that plays out. When I was at Shorewood, and it was the same at Shorewood, I would tell my assistant principals, “Okay, here we are, it’s Tuesday. We’re not going to screw this up today.” Because this thing exists here about, they are really good schools, but the families believe that. A lot of families here moved here because they wanted to live in Shoreline because of the schools. 


What kinds of things do you like to do in your free time?

I love to cook. I have a good friend, and he and I cook. That’s what we do, cook for friends. And so I love to cook and entertain with cooking and feed people. That’s one of the real forms of friendship and appreciation between people. And we get into these things. We get into a direction and we don’t stop until it begins to really get weird. We were in a ramen thing for about six months, and we were getting really particular about making our own noodles. And they had to be the right color and have the right springiness. So it gets a little weird sometimes, but I love to cook. I like the outdoors. So that’s something I’ve always done, outdoor activities. What else do I like to do? I read a lot about a lot of different things. I like music, all kinds, almost.


What were you like when you were in high school?

I’ve always said I was a good assistant principal, a better assistant principal than I was a principal because I got to know the assistant principals when I was in high school. I wasn’t a bad kid. But I knew the assistant principals very well. And I see students now, I mean, I don’t recognize myself, that would be saying way too much. But I understand that the assistant principals work with students who need help, direction, need assistance. Sometimes it’s around discipline. And I think I understand that really well because of the kind of student I was. I was a good student. But I got to know the assistant principals. I don’t want to say that like I’m recommending it, because it would have been better for me if some of those things didn’t happen, but that’s the way I was. I was a good student, did a lot of sports, got pretty good grades, and got to know the assistant principals.


I think a lot of people when we saw the email—“you have a new interim principal named John Green”—immediately thought of the author. So have you read any of his books? And if so, what do you think?

I’ve never read any of his books. Students have shown them to me lots of times, “is this you?”, just giving me a bad time. So I don’t know. I should, though, I guess. Yeah, I started hearing that, I think when I came here. I think it was too long ago when I was the principal at Shorewood. He might not have been a popular author then. But I heard that right away when I came here in 2016. Students would give me a bad time. “Are you that John Green?” No. No, I’m not. I’ve got to pick the books up, I think. I don’t even know what they’re like. I know students like them, right?


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.