MARYSVILLE – Lots of people had lots of good things to say about outgoing schools superintendent Becky Berg at a farewell ceremony Tuesday.
So much so that she joked, “I’m thankful to be here, and it’s not my funeral.”
Interim superintendent Jason Thompson summed up the feelings of those in attendance.
“We as a group, it’s hard,” he said emotionally. “We’ve got some big shoes to fill. It’s not good. I don’t know how we’re doing to do it.”
Berg has been Marysville School District superintendent for five years. She is leaving because of health reasons. Thompson will fill in for the next year while she is still under contract while a search begins for her replacement.
Emily Wicks, who worked in communications under Berg, said she can’t wait to see what her boss does next.
“We lost a leader, but we gained a champion,” Wicks said, referring to Berg’s stance on gun laws.
Berg was the MSD leader when the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School occurred four years ago. Many in attendance at the Bleachers Restaurant talked about her leadership during that tragedy.
“Thank you for your leadership,” said Chris Sutherland, school resource officer who was there when it happened.
“You led us during a hard time,” technology director Scott Beebe said.
“You were a great leader during those trials and tribulations when you were at the helm,” City Councilman Stephen Mueller said.
“You showed great grace, great strength,” school board president Tom Albright said.
Teresa Iyall-Williams, speaking for the elementary school principals, said, “You showed grace during a time of stress. Everyone looked to you and how you got through it. You made a difference.”
Others were more general in their appreciation of her and her work.
“She treats you the way you want to be treated,” chaplain Greg Kenehan said.
“Thank you for trusting us with your kids,” M-P Principal David Rose said.
Albright jokingly sought kudos for the school board.
“We’re responsible” for hiring her. “Don’t we get any credit?” Albright said the resumes were comparable among Berg and the other candidates at the time. But it was an easy decision for the board once the interviews took place.
“It was obvious who the leader was that we needed,” he said.
Albright credited Berg for putting together a great team at the district office.
“That’s a gift to us,” he said. “You made it so much easier” for the transition period. “We love and care about you.”
Berg responded at the end by saying being here was the highlight of her career as she was able to advocate for the kids, think out of the box and support alternative schools.
Repeating what she said during graduation ceremonies last week, she asked the community to “Turn our mess into a message,” regarding the shooting. She encouraged everyone to “not be afraid to speak out. Don’t hide under a bush. Let the light shine.”