As a kid, Jane Stavem would gather her cousins in the basement of her house to play school, armed with old textbooks her fourth-grade teacher had given her. Stavem’s love of education was confirmed while attending college, and she started her career as an elementary school teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota. Stavem started her current role at Lake Washington School District in August 2018 after being attracted to the district’s rapid growth — it’s the second-largest district in the state — and high performance. As superintendent, Stavem essentially is the overseer of the district and the community, as well as overseeing the needs of all the schools and staff members. “One of my friends along the way characterized (the superintendent role) as being responsible for everything and in control of very little,” Stavem said with a laugh. She gave us a tour of her Redmond office, sharing special pieces of her history. 

Sitting Through the Fire

Atop one of her bookshelves is this famous photograph, originally published in Life magazine. In the pilot’s seat is her maternal grandfather, who landed this Hellcat airplane on an aircraft carrier during World War II after it burst into flames. He survived the emergency landing, and it’s a reminder to Stavem that, “If he can sit through the fire, so can I.” 

A Melodic Reminder

This harmonica is a family heirloom gifted to Stavem by her great-aunt and -uncle. Stavem was a music teacher during her early days in education, and it’s a nice reminder of her past. Every now and then, she’ll play it in her office. 

 

No Excuses

Some years back, a para educator at one of Stavem’s schools snapped this photo of a first-grade student as she was driving herself and her 3-year-old brother to school in a toy Jeep. When asked what she was doing, she said she needed to get to school on time. It became a funny and important lesson. Stavem sent the photo out to all her high school principals, telling them if their high school students ever said they can’t get to school on time to show them this photo: no excuses.

An OG Mister Rogers Fan 

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood first aired in the late 1960s, and Stavem said she was among the first generation to watch the show. He’s a reminder to love and care for children, and she remains a big fan of his. Fun fact: His blazer transforms to a sweater when the mug is filled with hot liquid.