Dawn Christiana, the new Principal of Cascadia Elementary School, hopes to immediately foster a welcoming environment in her new school.
“I want a collaborative atmosphere,” she said. “The beginning of this year is going to be a lot of me listening and learning to our staff, our students and our families, too.”
Christiana came to Ferndale this summer with decades of educational experience in Whatcom County. Previously, she led Irene Raither Elementary in Meridian School District for three years and served as a director of teaching and learning in Bellingham School District, specializing in K-12 literacy and the highly-capable program. Christiana also taught for 16 years in Blaine, Bellingham and Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Born into an Army family, Christiana moved 19 times before the age of 21 – including a short period in Washington, while her family was stationed at Fort Lewis near Tacoma. She said she learned a lot about other people by living in a variety of different communities.
Christiana joined Ferndale Schools the same summer as new Superintendent Dr. Kristi Dominguez, who is kicking off her first year with a districtwide “You Belong” campaign. Christiana said that is an important theme she plans to incorporate at Cascadia.
“Belonging is the first part of learning,” Christiana said. “Each of us matter, and mattering isn’t just about academics … it’s how you fit here, and what gifts you bring.”
Christiana said she plans to engage students, staff and families in conversations about educating students as a “whole child,” encompassing social-emotional health, play, art, music and other aspects alongside the traditional academic topics.
“How do we nurture that whole child so kids are excited to be at Cascadia, growing as readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists … but also as artists, musicians, athletes, community members and more?” Christiana said. “We need to make learning about students asking questions and creating choice.”
Christiana said she feels a lot of positive anticipation in the Cascadia community for the upcoming school year.
“I think the staff here are excited about learning, and they’re excited about the kids,” she said.
FUN FACTS ABOUT DAWN CHRISTIANA
Favorite food: Taco salad
Favorite hobby: Anything by the water
Favorite TV show: This Is Us
Favorite musical artist: Tim McGraw
If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive: Her grandma
If her life was a movie, who would she cast as herself: Amy Schumer