Trina Caudle’s family has been in Coeur d’Alene for five generations.
Her great-great-grandmother went to school at the Fort Grounds and her great-great-grandfather had an original homestead where E. Neider Avenue and N. Government Way are now.
Her great-grandmother used to be a teacher at Coeur d’Alene High School and Caudle’s parents settled in Coeur d’Alene during her last year of high school.
“I plan on staying in Coeur d’Alene,” said the director of secondary education at the Coeur d’Alene School District. “My family and my roots are here; Coeur d’Alene is my hometown.”
Caudle grew up as a military brat, living all across the country and even in Germany two separate times.
She finished high school at Coeur d’Alene High School and graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in education. She spent time teaching in Sandpoint, then Anchorage, Alaska, and then Idaho Falls.
Over time she got her master’s degree and doctorate and filled a variety of positions within school districts, such as teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent.
Eventually, she moved back to Coeur d’Alene after her kids graduated from high school in Idaho Falls.
Now, she’s the director of secondary education for the Coeur d’Alene School District and president of the board at Safe Passage.
“There’s just so many different opportunities to help people in different ways,” she said. “High school principal was the most fun. When you’re around kids every day, it keeps you young and I have a better connection with the high school kids.”
Caudle sat down with The Press to chat about her life’s pursuits.
Do you love what you do?
I do, I’ve always wanted to help people and I like being around people. And this is kind of geeky, but I love learning, and being around education means you get to help people and help them learn. We’re a learning profession and a learning organization.
You’ve done a lot of work with anti-bullying in the schools, will you tell us a little bit about that?
The Wessler training was district-wide the year I got here. I basically took that piece over with secondary schools. Steve Wessler came in and did trainings for students and staff. It’s really all about how to be kind and how to help other people be kind. It defines what bullying is and what a healthy school culture looks like.
And this is how you got connected with Safe Passage, right?
It’s interesting, the Safe Passage connection. I’ve worked with the district since July 2014. It was my first time as empty nester and I’ve always tried to do as much volunteer work as I can. As an empty nester, it was my opportunity to take time and give back to the community.
Around October, Safe Passage was looking for someone from the district to be part of the board, so I signed on.
Through that process, I met an advocate who does the Green Dot program at North Idaho College — it’s a curriculum about healthy relationships and dating violence. “As a bystander what can I do to intervene to make sure our school culture is safe?”
It was great, through that relationship I was able to bring Green Dot to both Lake City and Coeur d’Alene High School. We wanted something to be able to empower kids to change the culture from within.
Tell us more about the work you do with Safe Passage?
Well, I started as a board member in November of 2014 and I ended up being secretary. Last summer I took the vice president position. Our president resigned in January so I ended up being president of board of directors because she resigned mid-year.
We've really grown in the past three years, adding programs and services including the Child Advocacy Center. Right now we’re just keeping that good work going.
I’m very passionate about Safe Passage. We want to reduce and respond to sexual and domestic violence in North Idaho. I’m involved in some of that preventive work. We’re never going to be able to stop child abuse, we’re never going to stop domestic violence, but if we can reduce it, we want to be as proactive as we can.
The reason I’m passionate about it is that I have seen people and I have had friends who have had terrible things happen to them. My friend in Anchorage, I had to help her move out of her house because her husband was abusive and it was scary.
And there were situations in college where my girlfriends had unfortunate things happen to them and I’ve had students who have had things happen to them. And if we can prevent those things, that would be just so wonderful.
If we can help people who have traumatic things happen, it doesn’t have to define their lives. They can get back control of their life. I want to help people and I want Coeur d’Alene to be a healthy community, because this is my hometown. I see students and we work with families every day that have unfortunate things happen to them. Kids can’t learn and it impacts their lives forever. It's a hard topic to talk about.
I bring that connection and relationship between school and Safe Passage so we can be preventative, so we can provide some of that education to students — what’s a healthy relationship and what’s not, what are some red flags? How you as a person can be safe.
It’s nice we can share those resources, they are very intertwined.
It sounds like you are very busy with work and volunteering with Safe Passage. What do you do in your free time?
Well this is North Idaho — I love the outdoors. I love hiking, I love going down to the Sawtooths outside of Stanley and also over to the Cascades. I like backpacking. I want to do Scotchman’s Peak this year.
And I’m a runner, it’s a really good stress reliever. I love visiting my kids, I love football — ‘go Seahawks’ of course.
I love traveling. Because I was a military brat, I caught the bug. We used to move every three or four years, so I got to the point where I would rearrange my furniture every three to four years. I’ve been fortunate to go back to Europe a few times and China.
And I love learning, obviously.