Principal's Message

  • Principal Van Wijk

    Hello, and welcome to Panther Lake Elementary! I am honored to serve as principal of a school with such history, pride, and tradition. Our assistant principal, Mrs. Patricia Nesbitt, and I look forward to partnering with our staff, families, and school community for a wonderful 2018-2019 school year!

    This academic year marks my twenty-sixth as an educator. My teaching career began in Amarillo, Texas where I taught high school French for twelve years before moving to Western Washington. Since arriving here in 2005, I have served as a teacher, IB Diploma Programme Coordinator, and administrator in the Kent and Issaquah School Districts. I am originally from Texas and attended the University of Texas at Austin where I received my bachelor’s degree. I completed my master’s in Curriculum and Instruction at Nova Southeastern University in 2008, and my administrative credential at the University of Washington Tacoma in 2013. In addition, I am currently pursuing the Leadership for Learning doctorate in education program at the University of Washington, which I will complete in 2021. I live in the South Sound area with my husband Arnoud, who immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands. We are both very proud to be part of a diverse and robust community!

    I am excited to begin my second year of service as principal of Panther Lake Elementary, and to continue the amazing work underway in Federal Way Public Schools. I believe that Federal Way Public School’s Strategic Plan provides a solid foundation upon which our staff will build equity, high academic and social-emotional success for all scholars, and collaboration. This year our team at Panther Lake will strive to ensure that each of our scholars has a voice, a dream, and a bright future!

    We look forward to seeing you here at Panther Lake, so please check back for upcoming school events! Your voice is an important part of “Panther Pride,”so please don’t hesitate to reach out!


    Julie Van Wijk,