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3/27/24: NTPS Board of Directors Selects Superintendent Finalists

Lacey, March 27, 2024—The North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) Board of Directors today announced three finalists for the superintendent position:

  • Dr. Justin Ainsworth
  • Dr. Thu Ament
  • Mr. Troy Oliver

Dr. Justin Ainsworth

Dr. Justin Ainsworth is associate superintendent in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District in Palmer, Alaska. With two decades of experience in public education, Dr. Ainsworth has been driven by the belief that the students who need the most deserve the best. Throughout his career as a teacher, principal, and district leader, this mantra has guided his efforts. He has dedicated his career to advancing equity and eliminating opportunity gaps for underserved students, ensuring that every learner has access to a high-quality education.

Dr. Ainsworth earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Southern Oregon University, a master’s degree in teaching from Pacific University, and a Doctor of Education from William Howard Taft University.

Dr. Thu Ament

Dr. Thu Ament is deputy superintendent in the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District. He has devoted his public education career of 27 years to the students and staff in Washington State’s largest, most diverse urban school district (Tacoma) and a rural, growing district (Sumner-Bonney Lake). He has distinguished himself as a respected leader who cares about building culture and maintaining relationships. He leads with integrity and a passion for inclusivity.

Dr. Ament is a graduate of Central Washington University, earning two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree; he also has a Certificate of Project Management from the University of Washington. He earned his Doctor of Education at Washington State University.

Mr. Troy Oliver

Mr. Troy Oliver is assistant superintendent of operations for North Thurston Public Schools. He is in his 34th year in public education, 27 of which have been with NTPS. Mr. Oliver has been a teacher, a principal, and is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Operations. He has been a member of the superintendent’s leadership team since 2008, serving under three superintendents. Prior to that, he was principal at Komachin Middle School.

Mr. Oliver attended Whitworth University in Spokane. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in English. He returned to Whitworth and earned a Master of Education in Educational Administration in 1995, which marked the beginning of his administrative career. He earned his superintendent certification from Washington State University.

"The quality of applicants was impressive, and we are grateful to the community for being engaged throughout this process," said NTPS School Board President Gretchen Maliska. "We are committed to determining which of these highly qualified candidates best matches our district's needs and priorities, with continued feedback from our stakeholders."

NTPS Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens is retiring in June after eight years with the district.

Community members are invited to meet each of the finalists from 5:00 to 7:15 pm on April 10 in the District Office Boardroom (305 College St., NE). The finalists are meeting with groups including NTPS leaders and other staff, and students throughout the day.

In February, the Board conducted focus groups with staff, students, parents, and community partners to gather input on the priority characteristics for the next NTPS superintendent. Community members also shared their thoughts via an online survey. As a result, the Board is using the following characteristics in their search:

  • Possess excellent interpersonal skills, present a positive image of the district, listen to input and be a decision maker.
  • Possess the leadership skills, knowledge and sensitivity required to respond to the opportunities and challenges presented by a diverse student body and community.
  • Have a strong moral compass that is rooted in justice and equality, and experience working with all genders, races, and socio-economic groups.
  • Be a strong communicator in speaking, listening, and writing and promote a positive and professional environment that includes mutual trust and respect among faculty, staff, administrators, and Board.
  • Have experience recruiting and maintaining exceptional staff for the district and schools.
  • Have classroom experience in a K-12 setting.
  • Have experience with effective management and planning practices that will benefit the long-term financial health of the district.
  • Be strongly committed to a “student centered” philosophy in all decisions.
  • Promote positive and inclusive student behavior conducive to a healthy and safe learning environment with a deep understanding of special education that meets the individualized needs of each student.
  • Have experience in selecting and implementing educational priorities consistent with the interests and needs of students, staff, and community.

The new superintendent is expected to be announced in mid-April and will begin work on July 1. For more information on the NTPS superintendent search, visit


About North Thurston Public Schools

NTPS is a vibrant and diverse school district serving more than 14,400 students in the south Puget Sound. We serve the community with 13 elementary schools, four middle schools, three comprehensive high schools, and four choice schools. Our mission is: Committed to Excellence: Preparing all students for rewarding careers, fulfilling lives, and compassionate global citizenship. For more information:

Media contact

North Thurston Public Schools
Amy Blondin, Executive Director of Communications
(360) 412-4417