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Byrnes named superintendent of the year

Linda Byrnes, right, grins big at graduation last summer. The superintendent of Arlington School District was named the 2008 Superintendent of the Year by the Washington Association of School Administrators and will represent Washington state at the AASA conference in Florida in February. -
Linda Byrnes, right, grins big at graduation last summer. The superintendent of Arlington School District was named the 2008 Superintendent of the Year by the Washington Association of School Administrators and will represent Washington state at the AASA conference in Florida in February.
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Just a few days after announcing her retirement from Arlington School District, ASD Superintendent Linda M. Byrnes was named 2008 Superintendent of the Year by the Washington Association of School Administrators.
Byrnes will represent Washington state at the National Superintendent of the Year Award Program at the American Association of School Administrators National Conference on Education in Tampa, Fla. in February 2008. Thats when the National Superintendent of the Year will be announced and recognized along with the four state finalists.
Linda has a magical way of making young people feel comfortable, encouraged and truly valued, said Ally Acker, a former student representative to the Arlington School District Board of Directors. I consider Linda Byrnes to be one of the most encouraging and positive role models I have ever met.
Byrnes said she is glad to represent the superintendents of the state of Washington.
I am proud of the quality of education in Washington state and the role superintendents have played in raising standards and performance expectations for students and staff, Byrnes said.
The state award is frosting on the cake for Byrnes, after accomplishing her goals for Arlington schools and announcing her decision to retire. She came to Arlington 12 years ago promising to pass a bond for a new high school. She passed the bond that Byrnes leveraged into seven new facilities, according to school board president Kay Duskin.
Linda worked tirelessly to pass our first capital bond in decades and five years later we realized that Linda had leveraged our $54 million bond into nearly $100 million of improvements, Duskin said.
Another school board member, Jim Weiss said the board worked together in making the application for the award, starting last summer, and mailing it in early October.
Her friend Carol Whitehead won the honor and then last year Larry Nyland, in Marysville, won. We started realizing its up to us to toot our own horn, Weiss said.
Weiss believes that Byrnes certainly deserves the award. Indeed, he said, it is long overdue.
She has this knack. Shed hear a whiff about a source of funds, or a strategy for getting more and then shed go out and find out how to make it work, Weiss said.
I wish we could hire her to run a large corporation. She keeps people moving.
Weiss feels that Byrnes was instrumental in completing the performing arts center and has also driven the Respect Initiative for teaching kids to be aware of how they treat each other. The Respect Initiative evolved out of an unfortunate cross-burning incident in Arlington, but the district and its students have made great strides as a result of that event.
The Respect Initiative is helping kids get more civic minded, Weiss said. I think the kids are starting to be more aware of how they are treating each other, Weiss said.
You wanna listen to Linda Byrnes and you wanna believe her. And she never gave me a reason not to, Weiss added.
Learning by her side as a student representative to the board, I had the opportunity to witness her incredible ability to balance strength and grace, regardless of the number of items on her agenda, Acker said.
During her tenure as superintendent, other innovations Byrnes implemented include:
Showcase of Learning, a bi-annual event where teachers present best practices to their peers.
Mentorship programs for new teachers and administrators.
Teacher On Special Assignment (TOSA) program.
School Improvement Planning Technical Assistant Project (SIPTAP).
Freshman Academy to help at-risk students with the transition to high school.
Stillaguamish Valley Home School.
Summer school programs for credit retrieval and WASL remediation and testing.
Byrnes received her masters in education from Central Washington University and did her post-graduate work in education at the University of Washington.
She is a current board member of the Washington Association of School Administrators Political Action Committee and former member of the WASA Board of Directors. She is also actively involved in the Northwest Educational Service District No. 189 and the Snohomish County Superintendents.
As a community leader, Byrnes currently serves on the board of directors for both the Snohomish County Boys and Girls Club and the Arlington Rotary Club, which honored her in 2005 with the Service Award for Professional Excellence. Byrnes also has been on the board of directors for the Snohomish County United Way (200306) and the Stillaguamish Valley Senior Center (19962006) and was a member of the Lake Stevens City Council from 1981 until 1984.

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