New SKSD director never strayed from child development

South Kitsap School District’s new assistant superintendent for human resources never strayed too far from her original vision.

When Misty Dieffenbach attended the University of Idaho, she pursued a degree in child development and family relations with an eye toward teaching preschool.

That changed as Dieffenbach later earned a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s in human resource management from Western Governors University, but the connection with children never left. She served as a clinic coordinator for Valley Medical Center in Lewiston, Idaho, and also was an office manager at Palouse Pediatrics of Pullman Regional Hospital.

“I never really got too far from that child development or that child piece,” Dieffenbach said. “It still is that same common thread.”

It also is a link that led her in 2012 to the Port Angeles School District, where she was hired as the district’s director of human resources. Some of her responsibilities there included the coordination of staffing projects, contract management, professional development, Title IX compliance and all aspects of human resources for PASD.

Dieffenbach becomes the latest former PASD administrator to move to SKSD. Superintendent Michelle Reid, a former PASD assistant superintendent who began work in that district in July 1985, moved into her current role last year. Dieffenbach said her decision to move to SKSD was about more than about her comfort level with Reid, though.

“Michelle is incredibly intelligent and really passionate about education, kids and learning,” she said.

Dieffenbach, 27, a Lewiston, Idaho native, said she desired to relocate to either the Washington or Oregon coasts after taking family vacations to both areas. After growing up in Idaho, she said she liked the mild climate in this region.

She and her husband have a 5-year-old son who will enter kindergarten this year at Olalla Elementary School. The couple also has 3- and 1-year-old boys.

“Right now our hobbies involve frozen yogurt and playing on the playground,” said Dieffenbach, laughing. “We’ll see what happens as they grow up.”

Dieffenbach becomes SKSD’s third director of human resources in as many years.

In October 2012, Greg Roberts left to take a similar position with the Seattle Fire Department. Lynn Stellick then came out of retirement to serve as the interim assistant superintendent for human resources. Dieffenbach said Stellick has helped her through the transition.

“Lynn’s been great,” she said. “She’s delightful. She’s been doing this for such a long time that it’s kind of been great to sit beside her and absorb a little bit of that knowledge and history she has accumulated.”

Dieffenbach said her first priority has been visiting schools in an effort to meet with principals and other staff members.

“I think before we can really do anything I have to build some of the relationships with the people that make this district tick,” she said. “It’s hard when you start in the summer because you don’t really get to see those teachers, paras or secretaries yet.”

While Dieffenbach praised everyone she has met, she knows there will be obstacles that come with her job. But she believes those can be overcome.

“Human resources is challenging,” she said. “If you treat people well, if you respect people, if you trust the people ... the rest is kind of details.”


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