Dale Cote knew all along he wanted to be an educator.
Sure, he had dreams of playing professional sports like many boys, but even when he was in elementary school, he knew he wanted to be a teacher.
And it’s been a perfect fit.
“I’m in education because of kids,” said Cote, a Lake Forest Park resident.
He began the transition from teacher to administrator in 1998, and he will take over as principal at Meadowdale High School on July 1, when principal Norm Hoffman officially retires.
Cote, 42, credits his grandfather as the individual who most instilled in him the importance of a strong education.
“My grandfather overcame some great obstacles,” Cote said.
He said he also had a number of wonderful teachers growing up who served as role models.
Cote has spent the previous dozen or so years in the Lake Washington School District, serving as a teacher, coach and eventually assistant principal.
He will finish this year as the assistant principal at Kirkland Junior High School, where he has been for two years. Cote taught high school science and coached football and basketball for most of his career, however, so he’s familiar with high school-aged students. He was previously an assistant principal at Lake Washington High School and taught at Eastlake High School.
He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Central Washington University in 1986 and completed his master’s and administrative certification within the past 10 years.
Throughout his years in education, Cote has worked hard to get to know as many students as possible, often through coaching and advising clubs and students.
“Whatever I’ve done or wherever I’ve gone, I’ve wanted to help the greatest number of kids as possible,” Cote said.
Serving as principal at Meadowdale is a good fit for Cote, he said.
“It’s a school much like I am familiar with,” Cote said. The community involvement is strong and the needs and backgrounds of the students are similar to those he’s worked with in Lake Washington, he said.
Cote was born and raised in Tumwater, and although he did not work in the Tumwater School District, where Superintendent Nick Brossoit used to work, he is familiar with Brossoit and looks forward to joining the Edmonds School District.
Cote regularly visits Meadowdale to meet with administrators, faculty, staff and students. He also attends events, including last weekend’s carnival, so he can get to know the people, which is important to him, he said.
He and his wife, Terri, have two children. Their son Braden, who will be 7 years old next week, attends Brookside Elementary in Lake Forest Park, and daughter Hannah, 4, will enroll in kindergarten in the fall.
He said his family and children are very important to him, so he looks forward to being closer in proximity to home while at Meadowdale.
Kirkland principal Debbie McCarson has worked with Cote for two years, but has known him almost a dozen.
“He’s just great with kids period,” McCarson said.
She said although his position as assistant principal puts him in the role of disciplinarian at the junior high, the students know they can approach him to talk about their problems.
“They seek him out to help,” McCarson said.
She described him as being very approachable and having a high integrity, which Assistant Superintendent Ken Limón also noted.
Limón said Cote is friendly and he looks forward to working with him.
“He really is a student-focused person who has a strong belief in supporting kids,” Limón said.