Meet our Administrators:
Position: Executive Director for Human Resources
Years in Education: 22
Years at Clover Park: 6
Lori McStay began her career in education as a school secretary in North Thurston Public Schools in 1992. Since then, she worked in South Kitsap School District before arriving at Clover Park School District six years ago.
Can you provide some background of your educational career?
Prior to entering the great world of education, I was in banking for close to 10 years. Then, when I started a family, my interest was piqued in the area of education for purposes of raising my kids and wanting them to have the best education possible. That's when I decided to pursue a career in education. I started at North Thurston Public Schools in 1992 and worked there for nine years before moving to South Kitsap School District as their director of human resources.
How did you end up working in Clover Park School District?
After nine years at South Kitsap, I pursued an opportunity in Clover Park School District as director of employment services. At the time, what drew me to Clover Park School District was the diversity I was missing from my time at North Thurston.
I was the director for employment services for close to two years and when the executive director for human resources was moving on, the superintendent asked if I would be interested in filling that role, so I've been the executive director of human resources for the last few years.
Where did you grow up?
Growing up was a journey. My father was a project manager for dam projects being built
throughout the United States. We moved every three years to follow those projects, so it was almost like I had a military life. I was born in the Dakotas, moved to Montana and then Idaho. Eventually, we moved to another project in Washington state and ultimately landed in Centralia, which is where I really grew up. Having moved every few years helped me learn about diverse environments, diverse people and how to interact and become part of a new culture.. I think that's lent itself to the type of work I have chosen as a career.
Can you describe your role as executive director for human resources?
I oversee the district’s department of human resources, which includes payroll. It is a unique setup compared to most districts. Typically, you have a human resources department and a separate payroll department more attached to finance. I really like the fact that we are one and work very closely together, and I think that benefits our staff. I am also a member of the Superintendent’s Council. My role there is to provide or advise from a human resources and payroll perspective on issues concerning all staff.
What tasks does the human resources team perform?
In human resources, we have our recruitment and retention area where we're actively recruiting throughout the year and overseeing employees. We also deal with compliance and bargaining or negotiating with our associations and labor management. We also address salary placement, dispatch substitutes and help staff members manage leave if there is a family medical leave situation.
What has surprised you most about working in education?
The federal and state rules can change quite rapidly, which makes it a challenge for school districts to stay up to date. When I was first starting out in education, it seemed like things moved really slowly. Over these last few years, I’ve seen a lot of changes that are impacting the way we educate students, and they’re happening faster and having a bigger impact.
What motivates you to do what you do?
The students. I work with directly with staff. My desire is to ensure every student gets a quality education by virtue of the fact that we are bringing on board and supporting the very best educators we can for those students.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part is when we’re having new employee orientation, and we have 100-plus new educators in a room. You can see the enthusiasm, the motivation and maybe a little bit of apprehension. But that’s where we can encourage and provide support. Seeing that excitement and starting a new school year every year — that’s always fun.
How does CPSD differ from other districts in which you’ve worked?
One thing that stands out immediately is the fact that we serve a very large military population. When I was at North Thurston, we had some military influence but not as much as Clover Park. Six of our elementary schools are on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. That's very different.
What are your hobbies?
We are boaters, so we spend a lot of time cruising the Puget Sound region. We have gone up as far as the Canadian Gulf Islands, which has been a joy for me and my family because we really treasure when we can get away.
I'm also a grandparent. I really enjoy that. I have five granddaughters under the age of four from my three adult children, who decided they were all going to have children at the same time! I really appreciate spending time with them when I can.