Newly chosen LWSD superintendent already hard at work

Dr. Traci Pierce has been hired as the Lake Washington School District
Dr. Traci Pierce has been hired as the Lake Washington School District's new superintendent. She is the current deputy superintendent of instructional services. She will begin her new job on July 1.
— image credit: Bill Christianson, Redmond Reporter

It has only been a few days since she was officially chosen as the Lake Washington School District's (LWSD) new superintendent, but Dr. Traci Pierce is already hard at work preparing to take over the district's top job.

Since the district's board of directors unanimously voted at Monday's meeting to hire Pierce, she has been meeting with district staff and administrators to introduce herself to those who don't know her and reintroduce herself to those who do.

Pierce, who is the current deputy superintendent of instructional services for LWSD, has also received a number of invitations to visit different buildings throughout the district. On Thursday morning she read at Margaret Mead Elementary School in Sammamish and she plans to attend an evening event at Redmond's John James Audubon Elementary School. Both events were for Read Across America, an annual event that celebrates reading on March 2, the birthday of children's author Dr. Seuss.

Pierce began her career in education in 1994 as a teacher at Inglewood Junior High School in Sammamish. She spent the first six years as a teacher before moving to the administrative side. She said she misses being in the classroom so she especially enjoys any opportunity to return.

"It's always fun," she said.

In addition to meeting more people throughout the district, Pierce said one of the first items she will tackle upon becoming superintendent on July 1 is the district's grade reconfiguration to a K-5, 6-8, 9-12 system, which has been in the works for a couple of years and will go into effect in fall 2012.

Pierce said with this shift, there will be some staff changes in terms of what grade levels and subjects people will teach as some people may need to move schools. There will also be adjustments among the schools' student bodies as well: Two-thirds of middle school students will be entering a new school and the same goes for half of high school students.

In previous reports, Pierce said she has been very involved in the grade reconfiguration and is very familiar with the topic.

Two of the reasons for the reconfiguration are to free space in the elementary schools — many of which are enrolled past capacity — and to bring ninth graders to high school as that is when grades begin to affect graduation requirements.

Pierce will also be overseeing the opening of LWSD's new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) choice school in fall 2012.

While a lot of focus has been on the new high school, the district will also be working to incorporate STEM curriculum throughout all of the high schools as well as at the lower grade levels to prepare younger students for when they get older.

"That's another big area of focus," Pierce said.

While Pierce is very involved in the STEM school development, the grade reconfiguration and other aspects of the district, she said she will be working very closely with Superintendent Dr. Chip Kimball, who will leave at the end of the school year to become superintendent at the Singapore American School, to ensure a smooth transition.

Kimball reiterated this at Monday's school board meeting, saying he is committed to a smooth transition as well.

Pierce said her vision for LWSD's future lines up with the district's vision of having every student future ready, whether that means a four-year college, vocational school or straight into the workforce. She said one of the ways they will have more success in this is engaging with the public and building connections outside the district with parents, businesses and the community.

"We know that it's a partnership," Pierce said about ensuring students' success.

She said as superintendent, she wants to learn what the best ways to communicate with the community are and utilize these methods to create a more involved public.

Pierce and district officials will also be following the Legislative session as lawmakers work on the state budget. She said the district's budget will remain a question mark until they know how much state funding public education will receive, but LWSD's finances will be just one more thing to add to her growing list of duties as future superintendent.

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