Profile in Courage in Public Education: Gretchen Maliska

Courage written in chalk on a blackboard with a heart for an O.

Gretchen Maliska, Board Chair, North Thurston Public Schools
Director of Career Connected Learning, Shelton School District

It is always exciting to meet someone actively showing courage in one of our 44 school districts, but today, our honoree shows that courage in two school districts on a daily basis!

First, as the Board Chair at North Thurston Public Schools, Gretchen has always strongly advocated K-12 education and inclusion. As the mother of five boys, she has consistently and consciously worked to find ways to include her family in youth sports, multicultural and equity groups, and career and technical (CTE) clubs. Her life experience with a blended family has helped her lead through multiple lenses, including Special Education and College in the High School programs. She supports athletics, arts and activities, and mental health. She believes in celebrating and honoring differences and addressing every child's individual needs to help them succeed. "I have had excellent mentors. I am still learning leadership skills, and in education, mentors make a difference," Gretchen said.

Recently, the Washington State School Directors Association honored the North Thurston School Board as the Large School District Board of Distinction. “As a Board, we were honored for our efforts to ‘move the needle’ and to make North Thurston the best District possible. The Board is data-driven and we trust each other," she said. 

Gretchen’s passion for honoring differences allowed her to apply for the Shelton School District's Center of Career Connected Learning Directorship. She loves to talk about the four academies available to Shelton’s students: Business, Health Sciences, Manufacturing, and Natural Resources. The MET Academy includes Automotive, Construction, and Welding. As a parent, I could not have done a program like this alone. "Shelton's Career and Technical Education District Partners are role models for the entire State of Washington. "I get to do what I love," she said. "I work with CTE directors from around the state. We wrap around each other, and it makes a big difference!”.

Both districts benefit from Gretchen's passion. "I get to do all the fun stuff in education. I get to work with natural resources and marketing. We get to be innovative!" she said.

ESD 113 is proud to have Gretchen representing two of our districts. And this month, she will represent us all as the face of our ESD on our website. Congratulations on being the Profile in Courage Award winner for April!

Would you like to nominate someone for our Board of Directors to honor as a profile in courage?

  • Any employee, resident, volunteer, or student in one of the 44 school districts and one tribal school represented by Capital Region ESD 113 is eligible to submit candidates to Dale McDaniel for consideration.
  • Please keep submissions to 400 words or less. Photos are encouraged.
  • A small committee will review the applications. The Board Chair will read one selection each month prior to our Board meeting. In addition, that month’s submission will be prominently featured on our ESD 113 website.

Think about the heroes in your life who have done courageous things to support our students and staff members. We want to honor the wonderful role models who have been working in our public schools!