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OSD Board Approves New Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary Principal and Additional Orting High Assistant Principal

At the May 19 Orting School District (OSD) Regular Board Meeting, the board of directors approved the hiring of Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary School (PTR) new principal Nikki Mesa (left) and Orting High School (OHS) new assistant principal Tia Michelle Marquez (right), with both starting their new roles this summer on Friday, Jul. 1. 

About Nikki 

Mesa is currently the assistant principal at Frontier Middle School in Graham, WA, part of Bethel School District. 

Mesa brings 19 years of educational experience to PTR, including 11 supporting students in grades 4 through 6 in regular and special education and working at Bethel and Kent School District. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master of Arts (MA) in Educational Leadership from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, and a MA in Education from Walden University, located in Minneapolis, MN.

Mesa is also a 13-year senior, which means her entire k-12 education was at OSD, graduating from OHS in 1999. In the PTR Principal Search Hybrid Staff and Community Forum, she says the sense of community she developed growing up in Orting played a role in applying for the position.

"The school should be a community hub for everyone," Mesa said. "I want to make sure that our students feel connected to the community and always welcomed."

Also, during the forum, Mesa said the three biggest strengths she will bring to PTR to support staff, students, and families are communication, visibility, and making connections. 

"They (the strengths) will benefit the community by making sure that I'm always accessible," Mesa said. "By bringing in these strengths, we're able to work collectively, they'll (the community) will see me as a resource, as well as an ally ensuring student success."

To watch Mesa's community portion of the forum, click here.

About Tia

Marquez is currently an associate administrator at Spanaway Lake High School in Spanaway, WA, also part of Bethel School District. 

Marquez was born and raised in Hawaii, where she also gained much of her 10+ years of experience working in education in school districts located in Kohala and Honolulu. Her past positions in those cities include over two years as a U.S. History teacher, five years as a student activities coordinator, and two years as an assistant principal. Also, she served as a project director for the 21st Century Grant, which creates opportunities for low income K-12 school districts, such as after-school activities, academic programs and family resources. After Marquez and her family moved to Washington state, she started working in her current position at Spanaway Lake in July 2021.

Marquez has a Bachelor of Education in Secondary Education and a Masters in Education in Administration from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu.

Marquez says she wanted to work at OHS because Orting reminded her of her home in Hawaii.

"I love the small-town community vibe," Marquez said. "I was told, like my hometown, it's common in Orting to see your teachers and principals at your local grocery store or restaurant and have small talk with them. It's those little things that build long-lasting relationships throughout local communities. I look forward to meeting students, staff and families throughout town.”  

OHS Principal Cliff Fries says one of Marquez's many traits that stood out to him was her genuine spirit.

"Tia possesses confident leadership qualities and has strong beliefs in building relationships with staff and students," Fries said. "We (OHS) look forward to her system organization, breadth of experience across different systems, and her good-natured attitude and demeanor."

Fries also says adding another assistant principal will continue helping OHS Students and staff reach their full potential to succeed.

Congratulations to you both, and we look forward to you guiding our students starting the 2022-23 school year!