After five years on the job, Commodore’s principal is Edmonds-bound.
Before he boards the ferry to his new position at Meadowdale High School, Dave Shockley took a moment to reflect on his time at the helm of the Commodore Options Program.
“I took this job five years ago because it was a very unique, challenging type of position,” Shockley said.
Shockley said his experience working in a variety of levels of education prepared him for his position at Commodore.
“I had the opportunity in my career to work at the high school level. I did some middle school work and I had worked with home partnership programs in the past, so this job combined all three of my passions together,” he said.
Shockley also noted that Commodore’s alternative learning environments appealed to his preference for unconventional teaching styles.
“As a teacher, I always looked outside of the box and always taught outside of the box — and this entire building is outside of the box.”
Speaking to the unique nature of the programs, Shockley said the challenge of being in charge of three different programs played an influential role in his decision to come to Commodore.
“I think that having three different, quality, award-winning programs under one roof — Mosaic, Odyssey and Eagle Harbor High School — was a great attraction. And, to be honest, I always had a passion for kids that looked for educational opportunities in a different way.”
As twilight on his time at Commodore nears, Shockley took a moment to stand in the sunshine of his success as principal.
“Both Eagle Harbor and Odyssey, just because of their nature, have won schools of distinction awards. That’s always a big thing, being mentioned as a top school like we were a few years ago in Newsweek and US News and World Report. Obviously it’s a great accomplishment,” Shockley said
For Shockley, these achievements pale in comparison to seeing kids succeed in the alternative educational environments at Commodore.
“For me, the biggest accomplishment is when I see kids not only survive school but find an environment where they thrive in school. I think sometimes kids just survive school, but here they have a chance to thrive,” he said.
When asked what he will be bringing with him to Meadowdale from Commodore, Shockley said he will be looking to see how he can create smaller learning communities among the students, something he says is no small undertaking.
“How can you make a large school like Meadowdale High School, which is 1,600 kids, how can you break it down into smaller communities, where kids are known well by any adult?” Shockley asked.
“Sometimes when you get to a school that size, I think there’s a fear that people can be anonymous.
“My goal is, and always has been when I was even at a larger comprehensive high school as a teacher, I wanted to make sure kids weren’t anonymous,” Shockley said.
Some of the kids he has met during his five years at Commodore would not have made it to graduation if it were not for the Commodore Options Program, he said, and it’s a credit to the school’s staff.
“Knowing what I know and as long as I’ve been in the public school system, seeing kids walk across that stage that actually were thriving in school and I can honestly say many of them would not have made it without the commitment that my staff has for those kids that are graduating.
“They will bend over backward and are totally flexible to help those students achieve those goals,” he said.
The relationships are real.
“I think we have four seniors graduating this year that have been here since first grade. That’s phenomenal. You don’t see that anywhere, and everybody in this building has had some kind of impact on them,” Shockley added.
With Shockley’s official last day, June 30, fast approaching, the outgoing principal said that one of the things he will miss most is the connection that he built between himself and the students at Commodore.
“I think that what I’m going to miss is obviously the relationships that I’ve built with kids. A small school, I know most of the kids. Several of the kids that are graduating this year, I’ve known for the five years that I’ve been here.”
Shockley also said he will definitely be missing the camaraderie with his passionate, fellow staff members.
“I will miss the close connection that the staff has with each other across the three programs. We share staff between Eagle Harbor and Odyssey and between Mosaic and Odyssey, and they are just an outstanding group of professionals that have one thing in common, besides being under this roof … their undying passion for dealing with students that learn differently,” Shockley said.