Auburn Mountainview Principal Herren has pride of a lion

Terri Herren takes the reins as principal at Auburn Mountainview High School. Classes officially start today. - Gary Kissel/Reporter
Terri Herren takes the reins as principal at Auburn Mountainview High School. Classes officially start today.
— image credit: Gary Kissel/Reporter

It was just after 1 p.m. Thursday, six days before the first day of school and the halls of Auburn Mountainview High School already were filled with milling students, teachers and parents.

Many of the queries fell upon the shoulders of the new principal, Terri Herren, then preparing to hop a flight to watch her daughter, Katie, take on Stanford as a member of Navy’s soccer team. And yet there she was in the midst of the confusion, smiling, unharried, collected as a cucumber on the very cusp of the first day of her first year as principal of a school of 1,475 students.

Cool, that is, except for one small problem.

“I haven’t felt nervous at all until this morning,” Herren said. “We were going to have 1,000 people here, every teacher in the district, and my custodian told me when I came in at 6:30 a.m. that the toilets weren’t working. But the district came through and pushed the right buttons to make it work.”

Herren, from 2005 to 2008 an assistant principal at Mountainview, has more than settled into the new role. She has flung herself at it at top speed and flung both arms around it. She proudly displayed a T-shirt with the word’s “Herren’s Pride” upon it and the image of two lions, a play upon the school’s mascot. Staff made that for her, Herren said.

In plastic, fur and framed form, that same fierce lion prowls the office walls, shelves and crannies.

“I thought I bled green and gold,” said Herren, formerly a teacher and later an assistant principal at Auburn High School. “I never thought I would leave AHS, but I have just fallen in love with Auburn Mountainview.”

The Kingsville, Texas, native is the daughter of a career Navy man. Her father moved his family about the country until her ninth-grade year when he retired to Chehalis, so his children could attend his old high school.

Herren began her career as a physical education teacher and gymnastics coach at Auburn High in the 1981-82 school year.

“I followed Maggie Trimble, and those were some big shoes to fill,” Herren said. “It was scary, but at the same time, such an honor to follow somebody who was such a legend, not just in gymnastics but in women’s’ sports.

“When I was in high school, gymnastics, cheer, track and volleyball were the only options for girls,” Herren said. “Maggie did amazing things for women’s athletics. I learned a lot from her, but in a very quiet way.”

Three years later, then AHS wrestling coach Kip Herren and his wife set Terri up on a blind date with Kip’s brother, Dee, then living in Santa Cruz. A year and a half later, the couple married, and Terri moved to Santa Cruz. For two years, she taught gymnastics and cheerleading at Watsonville High School there. She had her first child, KC, in California, but longed to be with her family in Washington. Dee decided to quit his job and the family moved to Auburn in 1986. Terri was rehired at AHS and her husband returned to school to earn his teaching certificate.

Katie and Kristin were born here and all of her children are outstanding athletes.

One night as Terri and Dee were chaperoning a dance, some kids were acting out, and Terri reprimanded them. Dee saw something when she did.

“Dee said, ‘You need to be a vice principal.’ I went, ‘No way will I ever be a vice principal.’ That summer, he kept saying, ‘You need to go back to school and get your master’s and become a vice principal,’ ” Herren said. “One day there was an open house at the University of Washington in Tacoma for its administrative program. I said I would just go and see what it’s like. Well, then the rest is history.”

Terri earned her administrator’s certificate, and AHS principal Randy Taylor her to be his vice principal. When Auburn Mountainview opened in 2005, principal Bob Odman made Herren his second in command.

“As long as Bob was still willing to work, I was going to wait and hope that I would be his successor. He retired earlier than I thought he would, but I feel ready and am ready to jump in with both feet. I am excited about the next 10 years,” Herren said.

“My teachers are all happy. They love what they are teaching and love where they are teaching,” she added. “Our kids are great, and the parents are very supportive. Every once in a while there’s a problem, but if we come up with solution that makes people happy, we are on top of things.

“My goal is at least to accommodate people and make them feel welcome here and for the kids to feel like they are getting a good education. Things have gone really smoothly.”

Beyond school, there is at least one important bit of unfinished business in Herren’s life.

“I will be 50 in May, and I would love to skydive on my birthday. My husband doesn’t know that yet, but he won’t be surprised when I tell him,” Herren said with a laugh.

Auburn School District glance

• Students: approximately 14,1450

• Teachers: approximately 860

• New teachers for 2008-09: approximately 65

• Seniors, the class of ’09: approximately 1,300

• New principals: Richard Zimmerman (Auburn High School); Terri Herren (Auburn Mountainview High); Isaiah Johnson (Cascade Middle School); Jason Hill (Olympic Middle School); Darin Adams (Mt. Baker Middle School).

• New assistant principals: Steve DuBay (Auburn Mountainview); Andrea McHenry (Auburn Mountainview); Roger Lee (Auburn High); Maryn Feliciano (Olympic); Jana Jo Uhlendorf (Mt. Baker).

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