During his 31 years as an employee of the Trout Lake School District, Doug Dearden rose from the ranks of its teaching staff to become its top administrator. He has held the position of superintendent for the past 15 years.
However, after downshifting from full-time to part-time in recent years to save the School District money, he tendered his resignation on Oct. 17, 2018. His last day on the job will be June 30.
Dearden (pictured below) is being replaced by Crystal Lanz, who currently serves as the School District’s principal. Her new contract begins July 1.
You weren’t exactly a stranger when you reloca-ted to Trout Lake. How many years have you been employed in Trout Lake School District and did that familial connection to the community play a role in your decision to move your family there?
My wife Robin and I were married in 1982 and visited Trout Lake many times from our home in southern California. My wife’s mother grew up in Trout Lake on a dairy farm and over the years maintained a cabin that the family visited often. My wife and I both agreed that Trout Lake would be an awesome place to live and raise a family. In 1987, a social studies and history position opened up and I applied. I felt very fortunate to get the position and be able to become part of such a wonderful school and community. I never dreamed that I would spend 32 years in TL and have the opportunity to lead the school. Growing up, I attended smaller schools and their impact on my life was very positive and so teaching in Trout Lake was really a great fit for me.
Where were you before you came to Trout Lake, and doing what? Where’d you get your teaching degree?
I spent eight years in Riverside, California teach-ing in both private and public schools. I did my undergraduate work at The Master’s University, which is located 30 miles north of Los Angeles. I received my teaching certificate from California Baptist University in Riverside and also did graduate work at California State University San Bernardino. When I moved to Trout Lake I also was able to get an MA from the California State University system and then received principal certification from Heritage University and superintendent certification from the University of Nebraska.
Your career hasn’t exactly been linear. What was your first position in Trout Lake?
I was fortunate to be able to do a lot of different things in Trout Lake, because in a small school there are a lot of needs that need to be filled. I mainly taught history, but even taught third and fourth grade for half a day one year. I also was able to teach PE, career exploration and senior projects class. One year I even taught art and drama! I was able to serve as athletic director for a number of years and as assistant principal for several more. Again, stepping into the principal/superintendent role was more of just doing something that I thought could help the school district. Sometimes in small rural schools there is a lot of turnover in administration and I thought I could provide some stability.
Your career trajectory has been aimed upward. Why did you elect to get into school administration?
Trout Lake School is a special place with a very supportive community and outstanding students. My hope was that I could take my 16 years of experience in the district and work with the staff, community, and students to continue to make Trout Lake a very special place for kids to go to school. I really wanted every student to have an education and experience at school that would exceed anything they could get at a bigger suburban or urban school and to have meaningful opportunities that would shape them positively for life. I am proud of our students and staff and what they have accomplished over these many years.
You coached for many years, different sports. What drew you to coaching, besides the fields and courts being extensions of the classroom?
I really enjoyed getting to know kids in the arena of coaching and I really enjoyed the competitive side of it as well. I was blessed to play 3 sports (soccer, basketball, and baseball) in high school and played basketball on scholarship at college. So sports were a big part of my life growing up. At Trout Lake I was able to coach basketball, volleyball, and soccer.
What’s your favorite sport and most memorable sports moment?
Basketball is my favorite sport, but I came to appreciate track over the many years in Trout Lake because so many students could compete and be successful. I am so pleased that the last two years we have had over 90 students in grades 5-12 competing in track! There are so many memorable moments in sports at TL. Our boys beating Sunnyside Christian at Districts in 1998 to go to state was special, getting to the final four in soccer in 2005, our girls track team winning 4 state championships, and seeing us host XC and track meets on our own facility was a neat highlight for me.
I also have enjoyed watching the development of our robotics program at TL. We have been a northwest champion twice and gone to nationals several times as well. Given that there are no classifications in this “sport” it is remarkable that a school of TL size could even compete. Again, this really shows the resourcefulness and support of our little community. I will also miss our TL pep band playing at b-ball games!!
What will you remember most about working in the Trout Lake School District, personally and professionally?
Education is a people business so I will always remember the outstanding people that I had the privilege of working with at Trout Lake School. Our teaching and support staff are so dedicated and focused on helping kids be successful and it has been a pleasure to work side by side with these folks. They are and will continue to be an inspiration to me throughout my life.
You and Robin put three boys through school in Trout Lake. Excellent students, excellent athletes. Where are they now and what are they doing?
Matt, my oldest, has a law degree from the University of Cincinnati and after practicing law for some years is currently the Director of Admissions at Cedarville University in Ohio. Tim, graduated from Cedarville University, with a mechanical engineering degree, lives locally in Trout Lake, and is a flight test engineer at Insitu. Luke, graduated from the University of Montana with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and currently lives in Tacoma and works as a pharmacist at the state’s largest psychiatric hospital, Western State Hospital in Lakewood. I feel so fortunate that they got to grow up in such a great supportive community!
What are your retirement plans?
Robin and I have not figured everything out as far as retirement plans, but for the next several years we will be moving into the Portland metro area where I have taken a part-time job in the education field. We plan to spend a lot of time in TL, Tacoma, and Ohio visiting kids and grandkids. We are excited about this next phase.