Interim Seattle Schools Chief Pledges to Listen, Learn and Lead

Larry Nyland brings experience to a weary district

Published on: July 19, 2014

Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland  with School Board President Sharon PeasleeDr. Larry Nyland is the school administrator's equivalent of a veteran long-distance marathoner: He’s handled a strike and declining enrollment, helped raise high school graduation rates, and won community support for a school bond. A former high school teacher and principal, Nyland has been a superintendent for 23 years in both permanent and interim capacities. He was the 2007 Washington Superintendent of the Year and a Finalist for National Superintendent of the Year.

As a consultant, Nyland has advised 40 school districts, including Seattle's, on superintendent evaluation. He’s worked with districts on student assessment and has served as a leadership coach for principal training.

On July 18 the Seattle School Board unanimously voted to appoint Nyland, who retired in 2013, after nine years as superintendent of Marysville schools, to a one-year appointment as interim chief of Seattle schools.

“You gain experience from decisions that didn't go the way you wanted them to,” said Nyland. “I’ve had some experience from the school of hard knocks. God has blessed me with some skills and experience that I am happy to share with with the staff in Seattle.”

The district's previous superintendent, José Banda, who served for two years, announced last month he was leaving the district for Sacramento, Calif.

In September, the Board will embark on a search for a permanent superintendent; a process they promise will include community engagement. Nyland, who retired from Marysville because of family health concerns that have since been resolved, isn’t ruling out staying in Seattle permanently but says it’s too soon to say.

This is the honeymoon period, when weary Seattle school watchers will ikely welcome the new superintendent, our fourth in four years, with open arms and optimism.

“I had the honor of checking his references. Everyone I spoke with said that Dr. Nyland was one of the most outstanding superintendents they had ever worked with,” School Board President Sharon Peaslee said.

In their comments, other school board members praised Nyland’s commitment to educational equity and his commitment to diversity. Nyland is particularly experienced working with Native American communities, and he has served as an advisor to the Tulalip Tribes.

Nyland, a Roosevelt High School graduate, said he is committed to making progress on the District’s strategic plan. His 90-day plan includes touching base with community groups and district staff. He said his goal is to be ready to lead by the time school starts in September.

Final details of Nyland’s appointment, including his salary and start date, will be decided in the coming weeks.


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