WASHOUGAL — Whether it’s living in Germany as an exchange student, or taking over a school district heading into a summer of intense negotiations and a teacher strike, Mary Templeton takes the same approach.“You’re always looking for ways to connect authentically,” she said.As an exchange student, Templeton used her singing to feel at home, eventually becoming the lead singer in a German blues band called Ronnie Repro and the Rapid Access Band. She sang in English and German performing Eric Clapton covers to traditional German folk songs.When Templeton took over as superintendent of the Washougal School District in July, she walked into a situation with a fractured relationship between the district and teachers union, and that’s before negotiations for new contracts led to a six-day strike.“There was a lot of mistrust on both sides before Mary showed up,” said Eric Engebretson, president of the Washougal Association of Educators. “Communication was horrible. Tension was running high.”In 2017, the district and teachers were bargaining for a new contract. They reached an agreement, but the union membership voted against ratifying it. They reached a new deal a few weeks later. In January 2018, then-Superintendent Mike Stromme announced he was leaving Washougal after that school year to return to Vancouver Public Schools as the district’s associate superintendent for administrative services. In June, days before Stromme’s exit from the district, the teachers union announced 94 percent of members had passed a “vote of no confidence” on Stromme. The letter from the union said morale in the district was too low.