Jim Frey

Jim Frey looks back at his 11 years as superintendent of the Lynden School District (Bill Helm/Lynden Tribune)

Jim Frey reflects, will head up firm’s personnel sector

   LYNDEN — After 11 years as superintendent with the Lynden School District, Jim Frey will become vice president of personnel for Lynden Door Inc.

  Kevin Ardt, vice president with the third-generation family-owned company, confirmed Thursday that Frey had accepted the position. 

  Frey’s contract with the Lynden School District ends on June 30. He will begin working with Lynden Door on Aug. 1.

  “We are overjoyed to have him here,” Ardt said.

  In his March 25 resignation letter to the district governing board, Frey wrote that “there comes a time when you know when it is time to make a change.”

  Frey’s colleagues at Lynden School District spoke recently about how they are less than overjoyed to see him leave the district. One has worked with him at two different school districts going back to 2001.

  “This was not by chance,” said Mandi Lenaburg, Lynden’s human resources coordinator. “I learned early on it’s important to surround yourself with people that you will learn the most from and can trust, people who make you happy. Jim’s style has always been to encourage and inspire. I’ve learned a lot from this kind leader and am a better person because of him.”

 ‘Encourage and inspire’

  Frey has been Lynden’s superintendent since 2010. He came from serving as assistant superintendent with the Mount Baker School District. Steve Jilk, president of the district’s governing board, spoke last week of Frey’s ability “to form a strong leadership team at the district.”

  “Many changes have occurred over the last 11 years, with key positions and Jim’s ability to put people in the right position and then provide leadership in support of them to keep us moving in a positive manner,” Jilk said. “Jim has developed a high level of respect of him by our district employees, as well as so many in the community.”

  Perhaps one reason Frey has the respect of his people is how he handled the district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jilk said Frey led the district staff “through some very, very tumultuous times.

  “Being the captain of the district ship taking us through this time would challenge any captain, so to speak,” Jilk said. “Whether it is dealing with initial closing of schools, going online, reopening, dealing with state mandates on health and safety protocols, working with our district staff to align our academic and health work, Jim was that stable leader in getting us through this.”

 ‘A team that moves things forward’

  Accomplishments and successes are a result of not one person but many, Frey said, “a team that moves things forward.”

  Since 2010, the district’s student population has grown from about 2,500 students to 3,500, Frey said.

  Also, new campuses for Lynden Middle School and at Fisher Elementary School and a graduation rate of about 92% are areas Frey said he is most proud of, as well as the district’s “strong tradition” of career and technical education.

  “It’s a priority and we have invested in that,” Frey said of CTE. “Started a long time ago and we have maintained that.”

  An assistant superintendent at Mount Baker School District before coming to Lynden, Frey said he “felt like Lynden would be a good fit for who I was.”

  “The overall package of the Lynden community,” he said. “It’s been a joy working with these people, the staff, their families, the other stakeholders and community members. And the district governing board, nothing but appreciation of their role and service. The board has provided direction. As volunteers, they’ve been tremendous, doing it the right way.”

 ‘An amazing culture’

  On June 17, the Lynden School Board thanked Frey for serving the district. Board member David Vis told Frey that he had created “an amazing culture” at the district.

  “The leadership you’ve developed here is remarkable,” Vis said.

  Board member Kelly Kettels said that Frey’s “overall drive, work ethic, integrity, wisdom and kindness” were evident within the district.

  “He has always worked hard for our kids, staff and community,” Kettels said. “I believe this last year was no different. He worked tirelessly to keep everyone informed of the ever-changing guidelines. He provided support and structure to everyone who needed it. I believe we were very blessed to have Jim Frey lead our school district over the past 11 years.”

 Lynden School District personnel say thank you to Superintendent Jim Frey

  “There’s so many things to emulate and admire about Jim.” — CJ Cosanti, Lynden School Board member

   “Jim Frey provided tremendous leadership to the staff, students and community of the Lynden School District for 11 years. He has been a stable presence who set and maintained a balanced focus on making Lynden students ready for college, career and citizenship. His legacy will be seen in the caring adults he has hired who continue to make an impact for students, a vision for a well-rounded child, and sense of trust and pride that our community has for our school system.” — Ian Freeman, Lynden High School principal

   “Jim is a great listener and quickly zeroes in on the most important point or issue. He understands complex situations and their implications. He is a very principled individual and that permeates everything he does. Jim is very skilled at the balance between people’s need to process and accomplishing goals. The late-arrival Wednesdays are a good example. Jim is fun to work with. Simple statement. Deep truth.” — Elizabeth Hamming, Lynden School Districtd teaching and learning director

   “Jim was the third superintendent I worked with in Lynden. I was trepidatious when he was hired, but I was pleasantly surprised by his approachable and professional manner. The last two years could not have been easy for anyone due to the pandemic. I am just so thankful he was here to guide us through all the constant changes. He was calm and he showed us how to gather all the information prior to making plans. Thank you, Jim.” — Ellie Meenk, Lynden Academy principal

   “A genuine person that really cares about students and staff.” — DeeEtta Pullar, LSD human resources coordinator

   “Jim has been a wonderful leader and mentor. Jim’s impact with his words of encouragement and his acts of dedication and kindness for this community he shares is an insight to his true character.” — Shari Shagren, administrative assistant to Frey