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Granite Falls finds leader for its schools

After two tries, the school district selects Karen Koschak.

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By Eric Stevick
Herald Writer
GRANITE FALLS -- The second time proved a charm for the Granite Falls School Board, which has hired a new superintendent after not failing to find the right fit in a search earlier this year.
Karen Koschak, who was superintendent of the Aberdeen School District from 1994 to 2001, will take the helm of the district of 2,300 students.
"Karen's teaching, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent experience will provide the district with the needed skills to move us forward," said Siobhan Sullivan, the school board president.
Koschak will receive a $150,265 salary under a three-year contract beginning July 1. She is replacing Joel Thaut, who is retiring.
Koschak, 61, retired from the Aberdeen post seven years ago but didn't leave education. Wanting to help people in poverty, Koschak learned Spanish and the couple moved to a small impoverished community with unpaved roads or no electricity on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. For several years she helped teach from eight to a dozen children in kindergarten through fourth grade. All were from ranches and many would stay in homes near the school during the week.
The experience was rewarding.
"We are thrilled we did it the way we did it," Koschak said.
Koschak is a literacy coach with the Seattle School District where she trains teachers to help students, particularly those well behind their grade level, improve their reading and writing.
One of her four children who lives on Jordan Road in the Granite Falls district noticed the superintendent's job had opened and urged Koschak to apply.
Koschak was intrigued.
"The size of the district is perfect," she said. "It's the size of a district where you can make a difference."
Granite Falls was the only place she applied.
Koschak has worked in Snohomish County before. She taught in the Marysville School District from 1971 to 1987 and was a principal and worked in the central office in the Edmonds School District until 1993.
Granite Falls board members said they were impressed with Koschak's expertise in curriculum, assessment and finance along with her reputation for strong relationships with staff members.
Koschak said she is thankful the district has passed a four-year levy, built a new high school and has room for enrollment growth.
"It looks like all the things you anguish over as a superintendent were taken care of," she said.
That allows her to concentrate on areas such as improving student achievement.
"Granite Falls looked like it met exactly the things I wanted to do," she said. "You can really focus on what school is all about."
Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or e-mail
Story tags » Granite Falls School District

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