Fred Woods and Kari McVeigh at the January 2020 San Juan Island School Board meeting. (Heather Spaulding/staff photo)

Fred Woods and Kari McVeigh at the January 2020 San Juan Island School Board meeting. (Heather Spaulding/staff photo)

Woods officially appointed as superintendent

The San Juan Island School District has a newly selected superintendent — high school principal Fred Woods.

“I am excited about the position and honored that the board has faith in me,” Woods said.

During the regular San Juan Island School District board meeting Wednesday, Jan. 29, the board appointed Woods as superintendent and celebrated with cake. Woods officially begins the job on July 1, meaning Kari McVeigh, who had came out of retirement to fill the position nearly two years ago, may get back to the business of being retired.

This school year is Woods’ 13th as principal to Friday Harbor High School. Although he said he was not looking to become superintendent, he began working with McVeigh under the title of intern-superintendent, with the idea that McVeigh would mentor him.

Board chairwoman Barbara Bevens wrote in a press release, “We have observed his growth throughout his internship with Kari McVeigh and look forward to many years of a great partnership.”

During his acceptance speech, Woods thanked McVeigh.

“When she first started talking about the superintendent position, it wasn’t something I envisioned,” Woods said. “But the more she talked the more I began to see the impacts a superintendent can make.”

Woods also discussed his journey from growing up in rural Idaho to becoming a superintendent of a school district on a tiny island, his love of students and education.

“It was a brilliant move to select Fred,” Brent Snow, a former district board member, said during the meeting, noting that part of what makes Woods an excellent choice is because he cares about human relationships as well as education.

The vote to offer Woods the superintendent position was unanimous and each member voiced enthusiasm for his promotion.

McVeigh told the Journal that from the first time she met Woods, she knew he was a tremendous administrator.

“He is in the very top tier as to what a superintendent should be,” McVeigh said, explaining to the Journal afterward that she began working on Woods two years ago to get him interested in the position. Not only is Woods a good administrator, McVeigh continued, but the community — students and parents alike — love him, and he will offer longevity to the district.

McVeigh also spoke highly of the current board, “I have worked with other boards and this board bar none comes together and supports each other. [The community] did well. You elected great people.”

Woods also spoke highly of his fellow district staff members.

“I have been around other small schools, and we have great teachers and support staff,” Woods said, noting that he wants to continue to create an environment where teachers can do their best work in the classroom.

While Woods stated he had a lot to learn regarding some aspects of the position, Woods said: “This is my home, and this position is natural for me — it is where I want to be.”