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June 13, 2006
Royal superintendent bows out with standing ovation
ROYAL CITY, Washington (STPNS) -- Retiring Royal Superintendent David James received a standing ovation from students and parents as he addressed a packed gym during graduation last week for the last time. After eighteen years at the helm of the district, James will be stepping down June 30th.
James said he has always felt fortunate that his family ended up in Royal City, although he admitted that when he first came on the job in July of 1988 there were immediate challenges to be met.
“One of the first things I did was ask our maintenance supervisor back then…I think it was Wayne Huss…to get me a ladder so I could walk around on the flat roof down at the old Red Rock,” he said, adding that the leaks were easy to see even back then. The new superintendent also noticed the district’s shabby textbooks, and implemented a seven-year textbook rotation policy.
He said he’s long been aware of his reputation for cheerfulness. “I know, I’ve always been really positive and the kids have always called me Mr. Smiley,” he said. “But there have been times when things haven’t been going so well…like the time the pipes broke in our brand new K-5 school and flooded a whole wing. The kids could tell then when they saw me that I wasn’t quite as happy as I usually was.”
Or a couple of years ago, when fights were breaking out between students at school—in September. “I went around to every classroom and told kids that just wasn’t going to happen in this district. And you could have heard a pin drop, those kids were really listening—they knew that ‘Mr. Smiley’ was serious.”
The best part of his job has always been the kids, he said. “If I was feeling down, or got bogged down in paperwork, I just went and visited classrooms,” he said. “That’s why most of us get into this business…for the kids.”
He counts some of his most challenging issues as building projects. “Superintendents usually don’t live through them, because you have to raise taxes and bonds to get them built, but I’ve been really fortunate,” he said. “Thanks to the support of the community, we have great grounds, and probably the best 1A campus in the state.”
James said he’s been in the district so long there are only a handful of people on staff that he didn’t hire. “That kind of means I’m old,” he joked. “I really thought I was ready for this, that this wasn’t going to be too hard, but the kids have just plastered the whole conference room with notes and flowers and things,” he said prior to his retirement party on Tuesday.
He said if he runs out of what he termed “fun money” he may be doing some consulting work, but of what kind or when he’s not certain. He’s certain, however, that he will be performing househusband duties, which his wife is looking forward to. “She’s planning to work another five years, and then we may stay or we may move on,” he said. “We really do feel fortunate—there’s no question the Lord brought us here, and He also let us know it was time for me to retire…it’s just been an absolutely fantastic time.”
So what will he be doing to stay busy after retirement?
“That’s easy,” he said. “It’s spelled G-O-L-F.”
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