Arlington Superintendent Kris McDuffy named to head Edmonds School District

Dr. Krys McDuffy
Dr. Krys McDuffy

Dr. Kris McDuffy, current superintendent of the Arlington School District, on Friday was named to lead the Edmonds School District.

McDuffy replaces Dr. Nick Brossoit, who is retiring at the end of this school year after 12 years at the helm. She is just the second woman to lead the Edmonds School District; the prior female superintendent was Susan Torrens, who served from 1997-1999.

In an interview with the school board March 19, McDuffy said she is “very passionate and driven about what I’d call the world’s most important, challenging and rewarding work, and that’s helping every child, every hour, every day achieve their full potential.”

In an announcement on the district website Friday morning, the school district noted that McDuffy was chosen after a thorough search that involved parents, staff, students and community over the last three months.

“Dr. McDuffy brings to our District a strong, proven history of educational and financial leadership that is well balanced with an extremely keen sense of the importance of building sincere and honest relationships with all in the community,” said School Board President Susan Phillips. “We look forward to her bringing her heart and passion for student learning to our district.”

Semi-finalists Dr. McDuffy and Dr. Chrys Sweeting each visited the District this week and then participated in a community forum at Mountlake Terrace High School Thursday night. The school board then convened in executive session after the forum to review further written input from forum attendees and for further discussion.

“Dr. Sweeting was a strong candidate and well-received in our district and we wish her well in her future endeavors,” Phillips said. “We also thank the hundreds of parents, staff, students and community who took the online survey, attended meetings, and provided written input throughout the process. This exhaustive process definitely contributed to the doard making its final decision and we now along with staff and the community look forward to Dr. McDuffy continuing her career in Edmonds beginning July 1.”

The Edmonds School District serves 20,000 students and their families from the communities of Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway and portions of south Snohomish County.

McDuffy grew up in Everett and first went to Edmonds Community College, then attended Western Washington University, where she received both her bachelor’s and master’s of education degrees, followed by a doctorate from Seattle University.

She was a student teacher at Lynnwood High School, taught in the Shoreline School District and then moved to the Lakewood School District, where she served as a principal for nine years and then as superintendent for another five years. She then was hired to develop principal and superintendent education programs at Western Washington University, where she worked for five years before becoming Arlington Public Schools superintendent in 2008.

“I’m a very caring and collaborative leader,” McDuffy said during her March 19 interview, noting that her motto has always been “leadership with heart.” I am not a micro manager; I really believe strongly is hiring wonderful people and staying out of their way.”

She cited as a key accomplishment the creation of a director of innovative programs in the Arlington School District, who works with front line staff to help them develop innovative ideas. One result was implementation of middle school program “that is a team-taught, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)-infused, project-based learning.

McDuffy also said the Arlington School District has been focused on early learning, including appointing a Director of Early Learning and forming a task force to develop strategic planning on early learning initiatives. The district implemented full-time kindergarten for all students during the last school year and have focused on training its primary teachers. The district has also begun collaborating with the community’s birth-to-preschool care providers, “inviting them into our professional development and sharing resources.”

Addressing the equity of opportunity question, McDuffy told the board March 19 that Arlington is working with community partners to address the needs of students in poverty. “We have a similar demographic with [the Edmonds School District for] free and reduced [lunch], she said. “I know that we are always looking for ways to meet these kids’ needs each and every day.” While Arlington is not as ethnically diverse as Edmonds, the district has been committed to ensuring that “all voices are heard from every family and every student.

“We have to examine our practices to make sure we are eliminating any barriers — institutional barriers, social barriers,” she said. “I think it’s just a continuous improvement process.”

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