April 24, 2019

Principal’s Message:

Exciting news! Melisa Salas will become the new Phantom Lake Principal effective July 1, 2019. I am grateful for the contributions that Melisa has made to our students, staff, and families this year.

With Melisa’s transition to Phantom Lake, I am pleased to announce that Chris Jones, currently serving as Lake Hills principal, is joining Tillicum’s administrative team as assistant principal. Chris will be returning to his middle school roots as he began his career in education as a middle school teacher and, like me, shares a joy and passion for supporting middle school students.

Please see the personal messages from Melisa Salas and Chris Jones below.

I am excited for the days ahead!

Best regards,

James Peterson


Message from Ms. Salas:

Dear Tillicum Community,

It has been my absolute honor and privilege to serve Tillicum Middle School as an Assistant Principal for the past year and to work with and for, wonderful students and families and exceptional staff. It is with mixed emotions that I inform you that I have accepted the Principal Position at Phantom Lake Elementary in Bellevue School District.

The staff at Tillicum Middle School is an outstanding group of people. I am proud of their dedication to make Tillicum a great place for learning. The teamwork between teachers, paraeducators, office staff, counselors, assistants, and custodians sets a high standard and creates a sense of pride to be at Tillicum.  My interaction with your children brings joy into my life. I will miss their stories, smiles, and energy.

Finally, I want to express a special thanks to you. I will always appreciate your commitment to education and children; along with incredible support you extend to enhance our school. You exemplify the importance of a strong partnership between home and school. I will leave at the end of this school year knowing together we have had a positive impact in your child’s life. Tillicum Middle School will always be a special place for me.

With warm regard,

Melisa Salas

Assistant Principal

Tillicum Middle School


Message from Mr. Jones:

Dear Tillicum Staff, Students and Families:

I am incredibly excited and honored to join the Tillicum Middle School community as Assistant Principal for the upcoming school year.  I’ve already heard many wonderful things about Tillicum and am eager to meet all of you and get to work serving students, families and staff! Until we have an opportunity to meet, I’d like to share a little bit about my background and journey that has led me to this point.

I was raised in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago – which is where my professional journey began.   Soon after graduating high school I began working as a teacher’s assistant splitting time between a kindergarten and third grade classroom.  This was a natural fit for me as both my mother and grandmother were teachers. To this day, I look back fondly on that experience as it cemented my desire to become an educator.  I have always loved the challenges and joys that come along with teaching and learning; and most importantly, the meaningful relationships I have forged with students, families and colleagues.  Soon thereafter, I attended Northern Illinois University and completed a degree in Elementary Education in 2008.

Upon graduating from college, I set my sights on the Pacific Northwest due to my love for the outdoors – backpacking, camping, fishing, snowshoeing, and skiing.  I accepted a position with Vancouver (WA) Public Schools, where I served in a variety of teaching roles for six years.  During that span, I taught Language Arts, US History, Washington State History, and AVID at the middle school level.  While teaching, I attended Washington State University Vancouver (Go Cougs!), completing a master’s degree in Educational Leadership.

Soon thereafter my wife Casi, my rambunctious Labrador Penny and I moved to the Seattle area to begin my administrative career with Bellevue School District. I initially served as an Assistant Principal at Ardmore Elementary for two school years.  For the past three school years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve as Principal of Lake Hills Elementary.  As a school leader, I have diligently sought to cultivate a culture grounded in the cornerstones of trust, teamwork, joy, and high expectations for each and every student.  Through this work, I have a steadfast belief in the power and importance of positive relationships, classroom management approaches that ensure all learners feel safe and heard, inclusive teaching and learning strategies that directly align with brain research, and culturally responsive strategies that affirm and value all perspectives within a school community.  My initial priority this spring/summer will be to begin developing a trusting and supportive relationship with all members of the community.  It is essential that I learn and understand the many successes, traditions and values within the Tillicum community, so that I can help build upon those strengths.

I have strong core values that guide my decisions and endeavors: equity, continuous growth, integrity, and joy.  In my humble opinion, our children and communities deserve nothing less than impassioned adults who are willing to do whatever it takes to help all students grow and reach their potential.  While it is very bittersweet to leave the Lake Hills community, I requested to return to middle school because that is where my heart resides. In returning to my teaching roots, I’m excited to join Mr. Peterson and the Tillicum Tigers team! Please know, it is and always will be my top priority to support you, collaborate with you, and learn from you as we work to maximize learning and growth for our students. I very much look forward to meeting everyone and growing with each of you in the years ahead.

With optimism and excitement,

Chris Jones