MSDs Nyland one of four nominees for natl award
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:59 AM
MARYSVILLE Marysville School District Superintendent Larry Nyland is going national: following selection as Superintendent of the Year for the state of Washington, Nyland has been nominated for the 2007 National Superintendent of the Year.
He is one of four finalist nominees from a field of 50 state superintendents of the year for the national award; the others are Susan Andrews of the Harris County School District in Hamilton, Ga.; Brenda Dietrich of the Auburn-Washburn Unified School District in Topeka, Kan., and Krista Parent, superintendent of the South Lane School District in Cottage Grove, Ore.
Of the four, Nyland heads the largest district by far with more than 11,000 students; the others have student bodies ranging from 2,900 to 5,000 students, and he has the shortest tenure by far, serving since only 2004, when he took over from former superintendent Linda Whitehead. The other three nominees have all been in their positions since 2000 or 2001.
Interviews with a blue-ribbon panel of business, government and educational leaders will be held in January for the final four and the selection will be announced in March at the American Association of School Administrators national conference in New Orleans.
The AASA said the nominees were judged on how creatively they met the needs of students in their system and how adept they were in communicating on both a personal and organizational level. They were also gauged on their improvement of administrative knowledge and skills while offering professional development opportunities for their team members. A final yardstick was how successful they were in encouraging active community engagement, participation and understanding.
Were ecstatic, its such an honor and very well deserved, said Jodi Runyon, Nylands administrative assistant and right-hand person. It feels a bit surreal because it is a big deal, because right here in Marysville good things are happening.
Thats a sea-change from when Nyland took over, according to board president Michael Kundu, who was on the newly elected slate who voted to fire Whitehead and hire her replacement. At the Washington State School Directors Association conference in Olympia this year Kundu said there were more than 300 school district superintendents present, and more than a third of those studied under Nyland, who founded the superintendents school at Seattle Pacific Universitys School of Education.
I think that its a tremendous thing for the city and the state. When you look back three years ago, people would not have expected this, Kundu said. Its a pretty good indication that we picked the right guy. Hes really well respected.
The district is forging the states second-largest high school of 2,700 students into smaller learning communities of 400 students on average, with a larger school of 1,200 kids. Marysville-Pilchuck and the new Marysville Getchell high schools will have the 400-student academies, and Marysville Arts and Technology High School will grow to the same size over the next few years. That has caused some angst among parents, students and teachers, but they are buying into the new program largely because of Nyland, according to Kundu.
People are giving Larry the benefit of the doubt, he said. People are willing to try on the work.
Kundu said Nyland brings a lot of skills in his tool box. Two of the most important ones are his ability to identify what the district needed and to fill the slots on his personnel cabinet and Nylands people skills, his credibility in building relationships with district stakeholders.
We needed somebody who was strong and had a lot of credibility, Kundu said. I think that we are incredibly lucky that we have him here.
Union leaders lauded Nyland for his ability to listen and ask the right questions.
A $10,000 scholarship will be presented in the winners name for a student at the superintendents alma mater, or a school serving the same area. For Nyland, that would be Seattles Roosevelt High School, where he graduated before getting all three of his degrees at the University of Washington. Nyland has worked as an adjunct professor teaching educational leadership at Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, Western Washington University, the University of Alaska Extension and Tacoma Community College. Before coming to Marysville Nyland was the human resources director and then chief academic officer for the Highline School District in Burien.