Mandy Jessee knew she liked working in education, as she has her entire career, but she didn’t know just how much until she took a year off during a family move last school year. “I just love the work,” the new Fisher Elementary School principal says. “I stayed home for the year and supported our household moving because that is what my family needed at the time, but I missed it. I felt like I was skipping school and missed the kids so much.”
Now she’s back. And Jessee couldn’t be more excited to be in Lynden and at Fisher, energized and ready.
“I believe God has truly perfect timing,” she says. “This is a lovely community I get to join.”
Most recently, Jessee served in the Tumwater School District south of Olympia for five years following stints in Shelton and Tenino. She began her education career, following her mother’s example, as a paraeducator in the Tacoma School District while earning her teacher’s certificate. She started teaching once she could, handling everything from split-grade to single-grade classes and Title 1 to highly capable.
After Jessee earned a master’s degree in educational administration she moved into a role as a dean of students before taking her first lead principal position in the Pioneer School District in Shelton. “I have been in educational leadership for a decade,” she says. “It sounds long and short at the same time.”
During the pandemic, the Jessee family moved to Whatcom County so Mandy’s husband could land his dream job as the chief flight instructor at Bellingham Aviation Services and a pilot for San Juan Airlines out of Bellingham International Airport. Mandy spent the last school year helping the family with the move (her mother-in-law also lives with them) and assisting her daughter’s introduction to high school.
“I was excited to see this position come open,” Jessee says about the Fisher job. “I am really drawn to Lynden and excited to get to do some great work here. It is a lovely community, and everybody has been so nice.”
Jessee sees her role as a facilitator to the abilities already in the school and the efforts of staff to serve students. “Our job and our focus is to serve the students of Fisher and if I can support the talents of the adults who work in this building to make sure kids’ needs are being met, that is my number-one priority, serving kids,” she says. “I like to highlight the talents of the staff. When you work with such highly educated and talented human beings who love and serve kids, why not showcase their unique talents?”
The early days of the job—she officially started on July 1 following the departure of Courtney Ross—has her organizing her schedule of tasks needed throughout the year, filling staff positions, associating herself with which teachers teach where, allowing the staff to recharge after a really long year and getting herself familiar with the community, the district, the school and employees.
“When kids hit this space, I will be in (my office) as little as possible,” she says. “My goal is to be with kids, seeing kids, being in classrooms. They are why we are here.”