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Nyland bids goodbye to school board


Incoming superintendent Dr. Becky Berg thanks the Marysville School Board for their decision to hire her and discusses the new staff for next year at the June 17 school board meeting.

The school board said goodbye to outgoing superintendent Larry Nyland, welcomed incoming superintendent Becky Berg, and heard about a Washington D.C. conference in which Quil Ceda and Tulalip Elementary was featured during their June 17 meeting.

Welcomes and Goodbyes

The school board welcomed Dr. Becky Berg, who will be the district’s new superintendent effective July 1.

Berg, formerly the Deer Park School District superintendent, was in attendance and spoke to the board.

“I’m very humbled and honored at the same time to be able to serve in this fine district. I’m very excited to get planted here and start the good work and continue the good work that all of you have done,” she said.

The incoming superintendent also introduced new or promoted staff in the district, including Cinco Delgado, a new director of teaching and learning, and Jason Thompson, the new director of human resources.

Ray Houser, one of the district’s former directors of teaching and learning, will be the district’s new assistant superintendent.

The school board meeting was also the last meeting for current superintendent Larry Nyland and current assistant superintendent Gail Miller.

Nyland shared a quote that he found while cleaning out his office to describe his time at the district: “We’ve not succeeded in answering all our problems. Indeed we feel like we haven’t completely answered any of them sometimes. But the answers that we’ve found only serve to raise a whole set of new questions - for Becky [Berg],” he added. “In some ways we feel we are as confused as ever, but we feel we’re confused at a higher level and about more important things.”

“I love this [quote], because this is what it felt working for you, Larry. I swear, I felt exactly like that,” said board member Pete Lundberg.

Lundberg praised the change in direction that Miller and Nyland have instituted throughout the district. “It took people a long time to figure out what you guys were even talking about…but the paradigm shift is now to the place where the focus is really on the kids, which makes the mission seem much more attainable,” he said.

Miller added that the shift in thinking was an attempt “to teach children and not just march through a curriculum no matter who’s sitting in your room…we have to put our faith in our teachers and not in a curriculum that claims to have all the knowledge and is teacher-proof. That will never get our kids to the place they need to be.”

School board member Cindy Erickson said the change from when she began on the board has been amazing, with more and more groups appearing to report positive change to the board throughout the last couple of years.

Nyland’s parting words came at the end of his comments, near the close of the meeting: “And with that I thank you. It’s been my honor and a pleasure to serve with you the last nine years. I know I’ll keep hearing great things about Marysville.”

Growth Mindsets in Marysville

Quil Ceda and Tulalip Elementary was discussed multiple times at a conference in Washington D.C. because of its work implementing “growth mindsets” and culturally relevant material, said Stephanie Fryberg, director of cultural competency at the Marysville School District and an associate professor at the University of Arizona.

“I think the staff at Quil Ceda and Tulalip should feel really proud that President Obama knows about us and heard about us,” she said.

The elementary school is the first in the nation to try and systemically implement research about growth mindsets and cultural relevancy, according to Fryberg.

New or promoted staff members for the Marysville School District for next year were welcomed at the June 17 school board meeting. From left to right (with their upcoming position): Gloria Henderson, Liberty Elementary principal; Lynn Heimsworth, Shoultes Elementary principal; Sonja Machovina, Totem Middle School assistant principal; Cinco Delgado, director of teaching and learning; Becky Berg, superintendent; Jason Thompson, director of human resources; Donneta Spath, career and technical education director; and Ray Houser, assistant superintendent.

The idea of the mindsets has been around for more than a decade now in research. Growth mindsets are the opposite of fixed mindsets, in which students believe the amount of intelligence and ability they have is fixed and unchangeable.

“When schools and teachers encourage fixed mindsets, students leave school knowing what they are not. And that was a really powerful piece of research I found,” said Fryberg. “Essentially we’re taking away students’ freedoms. ‘Oh, I’m not an athlete, I learned that in eighth grade. Oh, I’m not a mathematician, I learned that in seventh grade.’ And so growth mindset is about teaching kids see that it’s about how they can build those competencies.”

Fryberg says that the district doesn’t have the ‘blueprint’ yet to package the program for other schools, but is ahead of a lot of the nation in trying to apply the research.

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