Another change in leadership at Marysville School District

There’s a changing of the guard as the district awaits word on Jason Thompson’s future as superintendent.

Chris Pearson (U.S. Department of Education)

Chris Pearson (U.S. Department of Education)

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville School District is on its second acting superintendent of 2021.

On July 1, Chris Pearson will replace Lori Knudson, who has served as acting superintendent since Superintendent Jason Thompson began a medical leave in March.

“Thank you so much for your time with us. For being brave and willing to get us through the hard, hard bumps and big dips,” Marysville School Board President Vanessa Edwards said to Knudson during a June 16 board meeting. “It’s been a fun road. And at first I was really scared for what you were asking, I thought you were leaving. We’re very grateful that you requested the board that … you recognize the strength of your team and their strength and that experience was in Mr. Pearson, and as an acting superintendent, he will do us justice.”

Knudson will become the new executive director of elementary schools.

School Board Director Paul Galovin said it was Knudson’s personal decision to step down from the role, “but it sounds like Chris will be a good fit, he was a superintendent for a smaller district before — it’s not new territory for him.”

Pearson spent two years as superintendent at the Madison International School in Merida, Mexico before coming to the Marysville School District as the executive director of elementary schools in July 2020. Pearson also served as superintendent at the Conway School District, and during his time in leadership roles at the Burlington-Edison School District, he was named Washington State Elementary Principal of the Year in 2014 and spent a year as a Principal Ambassador Fellow under the Obama Administration.

Prior to moving into leadership roles, Pearson spent years teaching in both Washington, D.C., and Athens, Greece, according to a statement provided by the district.

“There’s a lot of unknowns right now,” Edwards said, but at this point it looks like Pearson will remain in the superintendent role as school starts in the fall.

Marysville is planning to make a full return to in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year.

In an email to The Daily Herald, district spokesperson Jodi Runyon said the board tasked Pearson with completing the preliminary budget and supporting the bargaining process with the district’s labor unions, among other things. Pearson is also expected to oversee the Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery plan, which includes helping students catch up academically, providing socio-emotional and mental health support, and coordinating access to community resources and social services.

One of the primary goals in the district’s recovery plan is equity training for all staff, Pearson said in an email to The Herald. “These trainings are aimed to help teachers identify their own biases and assumptions, and to be proactive in creating classroom cultures where all students feel welcomed.”

The trainings will be led by the district’s executive director of equity and family engagement and will be supported by teacher-leaders ”who will be hired as Equity Teachers on Special Assignment,” Pearson said.

In a March 24 email to the Herald, Runyon said Thompson does not have a severe illness. Runyon said there is no estimate as to when Thompson will return.

“I’m disappointed that there is not more information to be had at the moment,” Galovin said last week.

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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