Kent School Board Selects Three Finalist Superintendents
Three finalists are vying to be Kent School District’s next superintendent, including acting superintendent Israel Vela.
The other finalists are Keisha Scarlett, assistant superintendent of academics for Seattle Public Schools; and Mary Templeton, superintendent of the Washougal School District, just east of Vancouver in Clark County.
The Kent School Board chose the three after reviewing the semifinalists’ interviews and materials prepared by Nebraska’s national executive search firm McPherson and Jacobson at a special March 30 meeting in executive session.
“We are thrilled to present this caliber of applicants who have become our finalists from a pool of 24 applicants to our students, families and staff,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Leslie Hamada. “Our council is now relying on our community to engage in this final step of the process and provide us with feedback through the research firm feedback forms. We, the council, are listening and are excited to go along with it. forward together as a community as we select our next superintendent.
Students, families, staff and community can review interviews on the district website with finalists and engage with them during school visits on April 4, 5 and 7, then provide feedback to the board. .
The online survey for feedback on the three finalists will be open until 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 7. Once the results of the feedback survey have been reviewed and the board has conducted its final interviews, the board will publicly announce the appointment of the new superintendent and begin contract negotiations by the end of April.
Calvin Watts left the post of superintendent of Kent last summer to return to Georgia to become superintendent of public schools in Gwinnett County. Watts was assistant superintendent for the District of Georgia before taking the job from Kent in 2015 with an annual salary of $250,000 per year. Watts had an annual salary of $279,500 per year when he left Kent.
Scarlett, assistant superintendent of academics for Seattle Public Schools, was previously chief of equity, partnerships and engagement. She said she has dedicated her career to advocating for academic opportunities and environments that harness the inherent genius of students, especially those furthest from educational justice.
Her extensive leadership experiences range from her early career in STEM to serving as a teacher, principal, and numerous central office leadership positions at Seattle Public Schools. In 2014, she was named Washington State’s Midlevel Principal of the Year.
She said one of the main achievements was the launch in 2019 of the Academy for Aspiring Educators (ARE). ARE is a tuition-free educator readiness pathway program developed in partnership with the City of Seattle Department of Early Learning and Education and Seattle Central College to diversify the service workforce. of over 250 aspiring teachers of color across three cohorts with a 90% retention rate.
Scarlett is a multi-generational resident of Seattle. She and her husband are the parents of three adult children. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Political Studies from the University of Washington and is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, a historically black university in Atlanta, Georgia.
• Scarlett will be in town on Monday April 4th. For Scarlett’s schedule, check out her profile on the district’s website.
Vela began serving as Acting Superintendent of Kent on August 2, 2021. He was chosen by the Board for the role due to his distinguished career as a teacher, principal and district leader in the State of Washington and his years of service in the District of Kent.
Vela returned to the Kent School District as the School Operations and School Support Manager in July 2016 under Watts. As chief, he oversaw a wide variety of programs in the district. First and foremost, he was responsible for overseeing the Office of School Improvement, a team of executive directors supporting school leaders through transformational leadership.
He also led the implementation of support for early learning, inclusive education and multilingual education (ELL). His work in student and family support services encompassed important work including family relations, refugee transition services, truancy, and oversight of categorical programs and grants (including Title I, the LAP and McKinney Vento/Homeless).
In his previous role as Acting Superintendent, he oversaw sports and activities, school safety, transportation, capital planning, and facility maintenance and operations. During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, her team also led health services for KSD, including student wellness campaigns, counselor support, and 504 services.
From 2012 to 2016, Vela served as Executive Director of Schools, overseeing the Southwest Schools Region of Seattle Public Schools, Washington State’s largest district. He was principal of Meridian Elementary in Kent from 1999 to 2005. Prior to coming to Kent, he was a teacher for a total of 10 years in the Moses Lake and Lake Washington school districts and was a sports coach.
Vela has served on the Kent Youth and Family Services Board since 2007, serving as Chairman of the Board from October 2011 to September 2013. He is a member of Kent Rotary.
Vela, his wife and family have been part of the Kent community since 1999. His daughter and son both graduated from Kentwood High School and attended Meridian Elementary and Mattson Middle School. He and his family enjoy attending Mariners games, UW Husky football events, and traveling.
• Vela will visit the district on Tuesday 5 April. For Vela’s schedule, check the district’s website.
Washougal School District Superintendent Templeton is a 30-year-old public educator who has had a distinguished career as a teacher, building administrator, executive-level leader, and superintendent.
She began her career as a teacher in California’s diverse Central Valley, where she developed a passion for ensuring all students had a strong sense of worth and belonging. She also spent 18 years serving the Spokane Public Schools, the second-largest school district in Washington State. At Spokane, she led school improvement, community engagement, student advocacy, organizational accountability, and student opportunity reduction. She served as the Human Resources Manager for Spokane Public Schools Certified Personnel for four years before accepting the Washougal position.
Templeton joined the Washougal School District as its new superintendent in July 2018 and has developed genuine partnerships with the community, improved student achievement, built trust among all stakeholders, and expressed a clear and positive vision for the school district. ‘to come up. His team built a strong multi-level support system, led the work of training his staff in culturally appropriate classroom management, and exceeded the state average for high school students earning a double credit recognition.
As part of a successful levy campaign, she launched a vision for a bilingual (Spanish) immersion program, which has now been implemented. She said her team’s work to improve the graduation rate of all Washougal students (74% to 89%) underscores her ability and commitment to lead to improve student opportunities and outcomes.
Templeton holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon in German and Theater, a Masters of Education from Eastern Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Washington State.
• Templeton will be in town on Thursday 7 April. For its schedule, check the district’s website.
With approximately 24,000 students (actual number as of January 2022 is 23,712), the Kent School District is the fifth largest school district in Washington State. More than 130 languages are spoken in the 42 schools in the district. The Kent School District is one of the largest and most culturally diverse school districts in the state, according to the district’s website.