Introducing Flip Herndon

Headshot of Flip Herndon

Get to know the new Superintendent of Capital Region ESD 113!

TUMWATER – June 30, 2023 – July 1 marks Dr. Lester “Flip” Herndon’s first day as Superintendent of Capital Region ESD 113. In anticipation of his start, he sat down with the communications department to share a few words and this welcome video with the ESD.

Flip was born and raised in Tacoma and Lakewood and studied at Whitman College in Walla Walla. “That was a very different setting, for sure,” Flip said. “Going from Lakewood to Walla Walla, I hadn’t really lived in a farm town, which now I think you’d probably call that more of a wine town.”

Following his college days, Flip headed back to city life, only this time in Boston. There, he received his master’s in education from Harvard University and gained valuable classroom experience student teaching in Boston schools. Then he spent four years teaching in New Jersey before heading to Rutgers University for a doctoral program.

As a doctoral student, Flip taught an undergraduate course in history. He said, “It felt pretty natural.” While some of his fellow students enjoyed research more than teaching, he thrived in a teaching environment. “After that, I just decided K-12 is back where I want to be.”

In addition to returning to teach in K-12 schools, in 1997, Flip also decided to return to the Pacific Northwest. “I love the Puget Sound area. Washington state always felt like my home. Even when I lived on the East Coast, I just always wanted to be back here.” Since coming home, Flip has worked in public schools as a teacher and administrator, including Shoreline, Mukilteo, Tacoma, Bremerton, and, most recently, as the superintendent at Tukwila School District.

When Flip transitioned to becoming an administrator, he kept students at the heart of his work. “Once I made that transition, I never forgot the feeling of how it is to be a teacher and work with students. The work that we do is in support of the students, but it’s really working with the adults who have that impact on students.”

With another transition underway, this time to Capital Region ESD 113, Flip’s attention will grow to include all 44 districts, one tribal compact school, and the ESD itself. “What I’m looking forward to is how [I can] help support those school districts in the best way possible.” He noted that in Tukwila, they regularly relied upon Puget Sound ESD. “We used a lot of the services that they had and appreciated that. So here, that’s what I want to do. I want to make sure that we’re helping to support our school districts, making them feel like they’re informed about what’s happening, responding to the trends that we’re seeing coming on the horizon so we can anticipate them and not have to always be in a reactive mode.”

Flip is looking forward to leading the ESD staff in this work. “I’m really excited to get to know everybody. This is a new experience for me, and, I know for everybody else, I will be new to them.” He’s eager to meet ESD staff as he gets to know our many programs and departments. “Hopefully, people feel comfortable enough to poke their heads in and say ‘hi,’ and we can have a quick chat. I’m excited to meet everybody and figure out how we can work together.” For Flip, support and success of ESD 113 means support and success for school districts and their students and families. “In the end, our work is in support of our school districts and hoping that we can help them solve problems so they can serve their families and students the best way they can.”

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Flip Herndon to Capital Region ESD 113!