Commentary: Community leaders on retiring Everett educators

Area community leaders share their thoughts on EvCC’s David Beyer and Everett schools’ Gary Cohn.

Several community leaders offered their comments recently following the upcoming retirements of Everett Community College President David Beyer and Everett Public Schools Superintendent Gary Cohn.

David Beyer

Dr. Beyer led the effort to establish the Advanced Manufacturing and Technical Education Center (AMTEC) to support major employers and develop our future workforce. It’s been an enormous success, with many students starting careers in these high-demand fields right here in Everett. Also, one of the things I appreciate most is Dr. Beyer’s strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion throughout EvCC’s campuses, including adding a cabinet-level Chief Diversity and Equity Officer. This focus is not only benefiting the college, but also our entire community.

Gary Cohn

Dr. Cohn is an incredible leader and has made a tremendous positive impact in the lives of countless students while serving as Superintendent of Everett Public Schools. His commitment to ensuring that each and every child is supported and provided with access to opportunities is unmatched in Washington state, and he has the data to back that up! Our schools are stronger and our students have the support and opportunity to succeed, thanks to Dr. Cohn. He leaves big shoes to fill, but has laid an incredibly strong foundation for our community to build upon.

— Cassie Franklin, Mayor of Everett, former executive director of Cocoon House

David Beyer

David Beyer has been a steady hand during a period of remarkable growth for the college. Our campus is larger, newer, and serves thousands more students than it did when he arrived. That’s not easy to manage, and he’s done it by being deliberate and thoughtful about what he believes is best for the college. I haven’t met anyone who is more of a believer in the mission of the community college. His understanding of the historical role of community colleges is matched with his ability to drive resources toward current, relevant educational programs here. What has remained consistent throughout his tenure is his focus on student success – that’s his primary concern.

Gary Cohn

Gary Cohn has consistently encouraged students to think about what comes after high school. His focus is not limited to K-12; he wants to see students have their next step in mind before they leave his district. That might be a job, it might be higher education, it might be military service, but whatever it is, Gary encourages students to have a plan. As a result, more and more students are choosing Everett Community College as an option. Gary’s been supportive of our efforts to expand dual credit options like Running Start and College in the High School. Hundreds of Everett School District students are earning college credit during their high school years and Gary’s been a big part of growing those programs.

Both these gentlemen give generously to the foundations that support the work of their employers (Everett Community College Foundation and Everett Public Schools Foundation) and to many other community organizations.

Both believe in the value of collaboration to strengthen community, and have demonstrated that with board involvement with United Way, Providence, Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Puget Sound Kidney Centers, and many more.

— John Olson, vice president for college advancement, Everett Community College

Gary Cohn

Gary Cohn is a passionate advocate for all of our kids and for the positive impact public schools have on entire families. Gary boosted graduation rates, creating pathways to success for our future workforce. The team and culture he has built at the Everett School District will leave a long-lasting legacy for our kids’ future, enriching the community for generations. Gary is the quintessential leader that our education systems need. His energy, partnership, and big ideas will be sorely missed.

— Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive

Gary Cohn

Through Dr. Cohn leadership a transformative district culture has emerged into “The Everett Way.” It reflects the desire to go the long distance of inspiring motivation and perseverance in each student. Through innovative educational applications he has worked hard to support professional growth of our teachers, staff and administrators so that our students’ success is paramount. Our community has been made healthier and stronger as a result of the work accomplished during his time as superintendent.

— Pam LeSesne, board member, Everett Public Schools

Gary Cohn

The superintendent of one of the largest school districts in the state is a very demanding leadership position on multiple fronts. One of those challenges is making sure that everyone’s performance within the school district is aligned and moving forward in the same direction at a high level.

Dr. Cohn has done an amazing job developing high-performing teams throughout the school district, which has had a significant impact upon the school district’s success over the past decade. Furthermore, his focus and commitment to always be seeking performance improvements has also contributed to making our community perform at a higher level.

His leadership has had a substantial influence upon our community becoming stronger. Dr. Cohn will be missed, but his legacy for developing high-performing school district teams, and a high-performing community, will be evident for many years to come, as our students and community benefit from his passion to see every young person who graduates from the Everett Public Schools be the best that they can become.

— Shannon Affholter, consultant, former Everett City Council member and schools volunteer

David Beyer

Dr. Beyer leaves a great legacy at Everett Community College where he has established great programs that support all students, but in particular that have eliminated barriers for the students of color at his college and supported the Students of Color Conference that brings young people from the local school districts to his campus. David is recognized as a community college leader both at the state and national level; so while his retirement is well deserved, his wise counsel and supportive energy will be missed.

Gary Cohn

Dr. Cohn is one of the strongest champions of students I have ever met. I wasn’t surprised when he was selected as the Washington State Superintendent of the Year because of the many ways I have seen Gary be innovative and collaborative in finding partners who are going to advance the educational opportunities of his students. He will truly be missed in our community!

— Dr. Jean Hernandez, former president, Edmonds Community College

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