The Lake Washington School District elected Dr. Jane Stavem as its new superintendent last Friday.
The district had been searching for a new superintendent since mid April, following Dr. Traci Pierce’s announcement of her transition to Director, College and Career Readiness position within LWSD.
LWSD selected Ray and Associates, a national education search firm, to conduct a broad search and thorough selection process to name LWSD’s next superintendent. From 58 candidates, the Board of Directors selected the top five candidates and then narrowed it down to the top three.
The three finalists were Stavem, associate superintendent for Instruction at Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska; Dr. Paul Gordon, superintendent of Glen Ellyn School District 41 in Glen Ellyn, Illinois; and Dr. Erin Prince, former vice president of Education Policy, Chalkboard Project in Portland, Oregon.
A town hall meeting was held at the LWSD Resource Center last Thursday for parents, teachers and community members to provide feedback on each candidate to the School Board via the “Candidate Impression Form.” The three-hour event was live streamed and is available on the LWSD website.
Each candidate was posed with the same set of questions created by the audience. The topics of the questions ranged from equity and inclusiveness, dyslexia, graduation gaps, mental health support and more.
Stavem holds a bachelor of arts degree in education from Bethel University, a master of arts degree in educational leadership from Bethel University, an administrative licensure degree from St. Mary’s University, and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
She began her career in St. Paul, Minnesota where she taught K-6 music, fifth and sixth grades, gifted education, and served as a building curriculum coordinator.
In 2001, she returned to Nebraska and assumed the roles of elementary principal and executive director of Curriculum and Instruction for Columbus Public Schools, and superintendent of Blair Community Schools in Blair, Nebraska.
During her tenure as superintendent in Nebraska, the school district launched a new Career Academy, a three-year technology integration plan and numerous collaborative partnerships supporting innovative teaching and learning initiatives. She helped redesign three alternative schools to effectively serve students in grades pre-K-12 with significant behavior needs.
During the town hall meeting, Stavem shared her views on equity. She described equity as coming in layers.
“Some of those layers are opportunities and what is available to all students in all schools in all programming. I think equity also comes in resources and how schools are resourced in terms of staffing and programming and looking at if schools have what they need,” she said. “I think equity, for me, means giving every student what they need when they need it and where they need it.”
Following the town hall meeting, Lake Washington Schools Foundation Co-Vice President and parent, Valerie Horvath, said she was impressed with all three candidates and felt all three could fulfill the role well.
“I really don’t know who I would want to be superintendent. They all displayed passion for their work and I think any of them could do the job well,” she said.
Christopher Carlson, an LWSD board member was also present for the town hall meeting. He said it’s been very difficult for the board to come to a decision. He said the candidates all have exceptional backgrounds and the decision would most likely come down to which candidate will be the best fit for the LWSD culture.
“Ultimately, we’re looking for a strong leader that’s flexible and understands changes,” he said. “We need someone who’s not afraid to shake things up a bit and be an innovative leader.”