November 22, 1999
BOTHELL--Dr. Karen Forys, Northshore School District Superintendent, has been named Washington State Superintendent of the Year by the Washington Association of School Administrators. Forys will represent the state in the National Superintendent of the Year competition.
"I balance the visionary with the practical," Forys said about her definition of leadership. "I work to forge a common vision, seek enthusiastic support of others, find resources, test new ideas, and applaud our successes. The bottom line is that I am constantly looking for opportunities to ensure all students learn well."
Northshore's Board of Directors' letter of support cited Forys' unique approach: "Every year, Karen greets new district employees as a schoolmarm from the 1800s. Complete with gray bun, high-collar blouse, wool skirt, black shawl, and high-button shoes, she reminisces about the richness of that one-room schoolhouse and the schoolmarm's ability to focus on student learning. She impresses on every new employee that we all have a part to play in helping children learn. The bus driver delivers students safely, the cook provides nourishment, the custodian creates a clean environment, and the instructional assistant gives invaluable classroom assistance. Karen helps each new employee understand that, although our school system has become more complex, our goal is as simple and straightforward as it was when the schoolmarm stood in front of a class: we are here to help children learn."
Forys was also recommended by the Executive Board of the Washington Alliance for Better Schools, which includes superintendents of the Edmonds, Mukilteo, and Tukwila school districts, and the Dean of the University of Washington's College of Education. Their letter read, in part: "Through her dedication and spirit of collegiality, Karen helped coach an alliance of (11) districts to: 1) adopt clear standards for what students should know and be able to do, and create assessments that accurately measure students' progress toward meeting those standards; 2) integrate new learning and communication technologies that support and accelerate learning and help prepare students for the 21st century; 3) engage teacher, parent, and community participation in the important decision-making that each school must undertake to improve students' academic performance; and 4) assist students and families to come to school ready to learn."
Forys came to Northshore six years ago after stints as superintendent for the Clover Park and Riverview school districts. She also served as Assistant Dean of the Graduate College at the University of Arizona in 1977-79. Her education includes post-doctorate work at Columbia University, University of Arizona (Ph.D.), California State University (M.A.), and University of California (B.A.).