T&L Director Dawn Wakeley Announces Retirement

Dawn Wakeley, Tahoma’s Exec. Director of Teaching & Learning, to retire following 2022-23 school year
Posted on 12/21/2022

Tahoma School District’s Executive Director of Teaching & Learning (T&L), Dawn Wakeley, this week announced her retirement following the 2022-23 school year. Wakeley has been an educator in Washington state since 1985, and she has served as an administrator with Tahoma since 2001. She has held her current role leading the T&L Department since 2013.

 When asked what she’ll miss most about Tahoma, Wakeley said, “Almost everything. I’ll miss my team – they’re awesome. They’re some of the smartest people who do such good work and have such great ideas. I’ll miss seeing the amazing things that our teachers and students do. Walk into any classroom and you’ll find kids doing great things.”

Photo of Dawn Wakeley (right) speaking to Rep. Lisa Callan at Lake Wilderness Elementary School

 Wakeley grew up in eastern Washington in a farming family. Her father nurtured her tireless work ethic from a young age, which she has carried with her through a decorated career supporting students.

 “That definitely came from my mom and dad,” she said. “The idea that ‘I shouldn’t have to tell you what to do.’ You should just be able to see lots of opportunities to support and ask, ‘how can I help?’”

 “Dawn’s ability to see an opportunity and immediately challenge herself and those around her to create the best possible outcome for students is a skill that can’t be taught,” said Superintendent Mike Hanson. “She outworks every person in the room, and her impact on our school district cannot be overstated. Dawn has permanently transformed Tahoma. Her legacy has, and will continue to, impact generations of children in our community.”

 Wakeley started her career as a chemistry teacher and a cheerleading coach at Renton School District’s Lindbergh High School in 1985. As a new Washington State University (WSU) graduate, Wakeley began teaching while working toward her Masters in Chemistry from WSU. She later earned a collection of impressive accolades, including the Renton Rotary Teacher Award in 1996 and 1999, the Washington State Secondary Science Teacher of the Year Award in 2000, and the RadioShack National Teacher Award in 2001.

Dawn Wakeley (center) speaking with former Director of T&L Nancy Skerritt (left) and former Tahoma Superintendent Mike Maryanski (right)

 Wakeley joined Tahoma High School as an assistant principal and the Director of Career and Technical Education in 2001. She appreciated the opportunities to work alongside leaders who also made lasting contributions to Tahoma.

 “Terry Duty was a great principal to work for,” she recalled. “As a young administrator, getting the chance to work with [former Superintendent] Mike Maryanski and [former Dir. of Teaching & Learning] Nancy Skerritt was powerful. Mark Koch and Tony Davis were my two fellow assistant principals at the high school, and I partnered with Emilie Hard when she was the Glacier Park Elementary Principal… they were beyond wonderful to work with.”

 “Dawn is a force, and working alongside her for all these years has been a tremendous honor,” said Director of Equity & Family Partnerships, Tony Davis. “As our district has grown and evolved over the last two decades, she has been a consistent leader who has helped us stay focused on our vision of supporting every student to the best of our ability.”

 Wakeley was a pioneer of Tahoma’s Future Ready Skills. What was once “student profiles,” “habits of mind” and “district outcomes” evolved into the nine critical skills that our district identifies today as the traits that will prepare students for lifelong personal success. 

 “Dawn is a fierce advocate for our Future Ready Skills,” said Superintendent Hanson. “Not only does she see the value in using the initiative as a guiding light for our teachers, but she’s also willing to roll up her sleeves and dive into the content with our instructors to create those outcomes for our students.”

Dawn Wakeley (center) leads a round table discussion with stakeholders during a committee meeting

 Developing the Future Ready Skills was a year-long process involving various district stakeholders, and a chance for Wakeley to make a system-wide impact. It’s what she’s loved about her decade as the Executive Director of T&L, and what kept her in Tahoma for the last 21 years of her career.

 “I get to see a big picture,” she said. “I get to influence and provide support in lots of places. And there’s congruence with my values and beliefs here. Tahoma values relationships, collaboration, and teaching to outcomes that are bigger than just content. When I came here, there was a moment where I said, “I’ve found my people.” That felt right.”

 Wakeley will continue to serve as Executive Director of Teaching & Learning through the end of June 2023. There has not yet been an announcement regarding her replacement.

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