Head of Marysville teachers union leaves to take new job

MARYSVILLE — Arden Watson, president of the Marysville Education Association for the past 10 years, is leaving for a new job.

Watson was a third- and fourth-grade teacher at Pinewood Elementary when she was first elected president of the teachers union, after the resolution of the fall 2003 teachers strike in the Marysville School District.

The 49-day strike, the longest in state history, took a judge’s order to end, and it resulted in three new school board members and a $340,000 buyout of then-Superintendent Linda Whitehead’s contract.

Former union president Elaine Hanson also retired after the conclusion of the strike.

Working with a new school board and a new superintendent, Larry Nyland, Watson worked to restore stability and rapport with the district.

“Anytime you take a job you hope, when you leave, to leave it in a better place than where you found it,” said Watson, whose last day is Friday.

Watson will continue to advocate for teachers in her new position as one of three directors of Pilchuck UniServ Council, one of the Washington Education Association’s larger organizational bodies in the area.

Watson’s work to rebuild relationships with the district was a joint effort with Nyland, whom she credited for his role as well. Nyland retired last June.

Subsequent contracts have been far less contentious as a result of the two parties’ outreach, she said.

That allowed Watson to spend more time visiting classrooms and working to achieve broader educational goals in the district.

“There’s nothing that lifts you up as much as visiting the schools and classrooms and seeing how our students are doing,” Watson said.

“She was a joy to work with, a trusted partner in the reform process,” said Superintendent Becky Berg.

“I understand that she was an outstanding third-grade teacher, and that classroom expertise showed in her values as a union leader,” Berg said.

Watson’s term with the Marysville union will be completed by current vice president Randy Davis, who will begin his own full term July 1. Davis teaches science at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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