Everett schools’ Cohn recognized for award

EVERETT — Everett Public Schools Superintendent Gary Cohn was recognized at a school board meeting Tuesday for his leadership and successes in the district.

Last week, he was given the Superintendent of the Year award by the Washington Association of School Administrators to recognize outstanding leadership in the state’s school districts.

The Everett district has more than 19,700 students. The state group lauded the Everett School District for its results on assessments and graduation rates.

“There is so much more to this organization than graduation rates, but it leads the work that we do,” Cohn said.

Several local leaders came to a school board meeting Tuesday to congratulate Cohn, including all five members of the school board that first hired him in 2009.

“The embrace of this community is something this superintendent does better than everyone else,” said former board member Ed Peterson, citing Cohn’s tireless work ethic and drive.

Sue Cooper, a 24-year veteran of the board, said the choice to hire him was easy.

“Really, from the first time we met and the first interview, we knew we had a winner,” Cooper said.

The number of Everett students meeting state standards exceeded those of the state in every subject at every grade level last year, in some cases by more than 10 points. For example, 80.5 percent of eighth-graders in Everett met the statewide science standard, compared with just 67.5 percent of eighth-graders statewide.

The Everett district also has the highest rate of graduation for English Language Learner (ELL) students in the state, with 90.2 percent graduating in four years, compared with 78.1 percent. The five-year graduation rate was 94.5 percent in Everett, compared with 81.1 percent statewide.

Cohn thanked his leadership team, the teachers and the support staff and the current board for its support.

“We can’t do the work that we do here without the quality of character that’s sitting around this table,” Cohn said.

This week the Everett School Board also was named one of 24 “Boards of Distinction” by the Washington State School Directors’ Association for its governance practices. The association specifically mentioned the efforts made by the board to involve the community in decisions about bond and levy issues and facilities.

“Miracles happen in the district every day,” Cohn said, starting to choke up as he addressed the audience in the board room. “I want to thank all of you for not giving up, every single day.”

Cohn previously worked as superintendent of the Port Angeles School District and as vice president of Lake Washington Technical College.

Past recipients of the award include former Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Linda Byrnes in 2008 and former Marysville Superintendent Larry Nyland in 2007, and Cohn’s predecessor in Everett, Carol Whitehead, in 2004.

Byrnes and Whitehead have since retired, and Nyland is the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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