LYNDEN — Lynden School District’s interim superintendent may have been destined to be an educator.
However, Mike Stromme didn’t begin considering the profession until he was studying business and accounting in college.
“It was a coaching role, early in college, that got me thinking about this vocation,” said Stromme, who will officially take over for Jim Frey on July 1.
Eleven-year superintendent Frey will become director of personnel at rapidly growing Lynden Door Inc.
More than a few educators have said that they didn’t choose the profession — that it chose them. Perhaps the same goes for Stromme. The eldest of five growing up, three of Stromme’s siblings are deaf.
“I always was working with them,” he said. “They educated me as a sibling … mom and dad were phenomenal parents. We spent a lot of time working with my siblings.”
Less than a decade into his teaching career, Stromme shifted to the administrative side of his profession. Since then, he’s held several positions — and he’s had several opportunities to see education from all angles. His most recent role has been deputy superintendent in the Vancouver (Washington) School District.
“I was looking to get back into superintendency,” said Stromme, who also led the Washougal School District 2015-2018. “I am excited about this opportunity to be interim superintendent. This is a wonderful way to serve a community that has a need. I think this year will be a great opportunity.”
Lynden School Board President Steve Jilk said that Stromme was selected to replace Frey “because we felt the district needed a person who could help us keep the momentum going on so many different areas of our work.”
“Mike will have to apply his experience in other districts to keep us moving forward in so many areas, full opening in the fall, while maintaining remote opportunities, helping our principals and teachers in support of students progressing in the best way possible considering the impacts of COVID in the last 18 months, working with new district leadership team members, and helping all of us prepare for the selection of the permanent superintendent this next year,” Jilk said.
One of Stromme’s priorities for the 2021-2022 school year is to refocus on core curriculum.
“What’s important at Lynden is not unique to us, as schools get back to a new normal,” Stromme said. “We’ve learned from technology. I still believe that face-to-face is really important, but we have families that have different needs.”
What would make the new school year a success? For Stromme, the connection between each school — five in all in the Lynden district — and its students is key.
“Think deeply about our relationships with students and families, and how we’ve made this transition,” Stromme said. “Have we created cultures? We create culture where there is a sense of belonging, a place for students, meet the needs of all students. How have we opened doors for students and their families? Creating a welcoming environment.”
One way Stromme plans to facilitate this welcoming environment is by weekly visits to the schools, he said.
Lynden School Board member Kelli Kettels said that Stromme is “very approachable.”
“I believe he will be very involved getting to know our kids, staff and community,” she said. “I know there will be challenges for this next school year. However, I believe Mike will rise to the occasion. I look forward to collaborating with him and the rest of the board to ensure the best possible year for our kids.”