Lake Stevens School District superintendent Ken Collins checks a student’s computer for a completed health questionnaire Tuesday at North Lake Middle School. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lake Stevens School District superintendent Ken Collins checks a student’s computer for a completed health questionnaire Tuesday at North Lake Middle School. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Incoming superintendent has decades in Lake Stevens schools

Once drafted by the New England Patriots, Ken Collins has been a coach, teacher and principal.

LAKE STEVENS — Ken Collins thought he’d be a lifelong football coach, much like his father.

It didn’t exactly happen that way.

He started in the Lake Stevens School District about 30 years ago. In that time he has been a coach, teacher, principal and administrator.

Now he’s next in line to become superintendent, taking over for Superintendent Amy Beth Cook. She is set to retire at the end of the school year after 38 years in the district, with the past 10 at the helm.

Collins, 61, grew up in Cashmere, east of the Cascade Range. Both of his parents were teachers, and his father Jack Collins was a longtime football coach for Cashmere High School. He’s in the Washington State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Ken Collins graduated from Washington State University. The New England Patriots selected him to play linebacker with the 197th overall pick of the 1982 NFL Draft. A couple of years later he was out of the NFL and began to teach at Marysville Pilchuck High School. He also worked there as an assistant football coach.

Around that time he earned a master’s degree in administration from Central Washington University.

He was hired at Lake Stevens in 1990 as a head football coach and continued to teach subjects such as social studies and U.S. history.

Years later, in 2004, he became assistant principal of Lake Stevens High School. That school year he continued to coach, but soon after decided to focus on his new position in administration.

He was named principal of Lake Stevens High School the next year, where he stayed until 2011. He then started working as assistant superintendent of human resources, and now has been assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for the past two years.

He received his doctorate in education from the University of Washington in 2018.

“I hate to admit I went to the U-Dub in any way, shape or form,” he said with a laugh, “but that was a really great program that focused on equity and inclusion and equitable educational practices. So it was a great way for me to prepare for this next role.”

A few months ago, Collins learned Cook planned to retire. He let the school board know he was interested in taking over.

The board thought Collins would be a great fit, but still took its time to think about it, school board President Mari Taylor said. In the end the board concluded that Collins was the right choice, without having to go through a big national search.

“Ken’s whole heart and soul are here,” Taylor said.

Both Collins and Taylor look forward to moving on from the pandemic.

“I think one of the things I’m most excited to work on is thinking about disparities and inequities that have really come to the surface as we have moved through COVID,” Taylor said. “ … We have learned so much, and there’s potential to build on that resiliency as we come out of this.”

Collins expects the district may have to find different ways to teach students, as things likely won’t go back to exactly how they were before the pandemic.

The past year has shown that school systems can change quickly, he said.

He also hopes to address equity, diversity and inclusion in the district.

“It starts with making sure we are diverse in our hiring practices, and that’s something we definitely need to work on,” Collins said. “Our students need to see teachers who look like them who have the same kind of cultural diversity as them.”

Collins’ first day on the job is July 1.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192;; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Marysville firefighters respond to a 12-year-old boy who fell down a well Tuesday May 30, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Marysville firefighters save boy who fell 20 feet into well

The 12-year-old child held himself up by grabbing on to a plastic pipe while firefighters worked to save him.

Highway 9 is set to be closed in both directions for a week as construction crews build a roundabout at the intersection with Vernon Road. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Weeklong closure coming to Highway 9 section in Lake Stevens

Travelers should expect delays or find another way from Friday to Thursday between Highway 204 and Lundeen Parkway.

Students arriving off the bus get in line to score some waffles during a free pancake and waffle breakfast at Lowell Elementary School on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
800 free pancakes at Everett’s Lowell Elementary feed the masses

The annual breakfast was started to connect the community and the school, as well as to get people to interact.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring speaks at the groundbreaking event for the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$123M project starting on Highway 529 interchange, I-5 HOV lane

A reader wondered why the highway had a lane closure despite not seeing work done. Crews were waiting on the weather.

Justin Bell was convicted earlier this month of first-degree assault for a December 2017 shooting outside a Value Village in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Court: Snohomish County jurors’ opaque masks didn’t taint verdict

During the pandemic, Justin Bell, 32, went on trial for a shooting. Bell claims his right to an impartial jury was violated.

Gary Fontes uprights a tree that fell over in front of The Fontes Manor — a miniature handmade bed and breakfast — on Friday, May 12, 2023, at his home near Silver Lake in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s mini-Frank Lloyd Wright builds neighborhood of extra tiny homes

A tiny lighthouse, a spooky mansion and more: Gary Fontes’ miniature world of architectural wonders is one-twelfth the size of real life.

Will Steffener
Inslee appoints Steffener as Superior Court judge

Attorney Will Steffener will replace Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis, who is retiring in June.

Mountlake Terrace Library, part of the Sno-Isle Libraries, in Mountlake Terrace, Washington on Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Sno-Isle workers cite safety, unfilled positions in union push

Workers also pointed to inconsistent policies and a lack of a say in decision-making. Leadership says they’ve been listening.

A view over the Port of Everett Marina looking toward the southern Whidbey Island fault zone in March 2021. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County agencies to simulate major disaster

The scenario will practice the response to an earthquake or tsunami. Dozens of agencies will work with pilots.

Most Read