Dr. Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent
Dr. Larry Nyland leads Washington state's largest K-12 school district, a vibrant and diverse community of 53,000 scholars. The School Board appointed him as interim superintendent in August 2014 and Dr. Nyland was hired as the district’s permanent superintendent in January 2015.
Dr. Nyland has a long history of transformational leadership in school districts across Washington.
Through strengthening relationships with teachers and staff, community engagement with families, building partnerships with the business community, and local service organizations he has been able to improve and accelerate learning for all children. Prior to Seattle Public Schools he was the superintendent of Marysville School District. In Marysville, working closely with the Tulalip Tribes, he was able to rebuild and stabilize the district after a contentious strike, win voter approval for a $118 million bond issue for new schools in 2006 and work with staff to raise graduation rates by 22 percent.
In 2007, Dr. Nyland was named Superintendent of the Year by the Washington Association of School Administrators, and he was also a finalist for National Superintendent of the Year in 2007.
Dr. Nyland also served as interim superintendent for the Shoreline School District in 1997, where he stepped in during a difficult time and helped renew trust and relationships with labor groups, won voter approval for renewal of a local tax initiative to support schools, and created a district focus on school improvement around literacy.
After retiring from the Marysville School District, Dr. Nyland spent a year as a leadership coach, work that he has done through most of his career. During that year he was in more than 100 classrooms working with more than 40 districts in the areas of superintendent evaluation training, superintendent coaching, student assessment consulting, and as a leadership coach for principal evaluations.
Dr. Nyland’s work in Seattle continues his legacy of collaborative leadership and reflects his personal commitment to social justice and an unwavering belief in students. Dr. Nyland says his personal mission has always been to bring people together to do whatever it takes to improve student success.
Under his leadership, Seattle Public Schools has made significant gains in the past two years.
Seattle Public Schools continues to consistently outperform peer districts across the state and nationally. Many of our schools have been recognized as Schools of Distinction, schools that are accelerating learning and success for all students. Four of the district’s schools lead the state in eliminating academic gaps, including Olympic Hills, which has the highest academic outcomes for students of color in Washington.
While many of the district’s students are thriving, the goal of an excellent education has not been fulfilled for each and every student. In response, Dr. Nyland named eliminating opportunity gaps and accelerating learning for students of color the issue of our time and has made good on his promise.
This commitment is reflected in the policies and student supports he has championed. The board established a moratorium on elementary suspensions. Dr. Nyland and his team built a plan to support schools and the district has made significant progress in reducing suspensions, especially for students of color. Seattle was also among the first in the nation to pilot President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper, a mentorship program that has resulted in improved attendance and academic achievement for African American students.
Dr. Nyland also successfully led the first large district bell time shift in the nation. In response to research on adolescent sleep patterns, the district shifted the start and end times for all schools across the district. This change required extensive community engagement, transportation adjustments, and partnership cultivation. Seattle Public Schools is now advising other districts on similar system changes.
Finally, Dr. Nyland guided the district through a labor strike and has since built strong, student-focused relationships with the Seattle Education Association and the principal association. Together, Dr. Nyland and our labor partners are working to eliminate opportunity gaps and create school climates where all students are known, challenged and cared for. In support of this commitment, this fall more than 4,000 staff participated in the first district-wide training on building positive relationships. We now see evidence of improved climate in every school across the district.
A 1966 Roosevelt High School graduate, Dr. Nyland received his Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Doctorate in Education Administration from the University of Washington. He also served on the Dean's Advisory Council at the UW from 2009-11 and is a Kellogg Fellow mentoring districts and district leaders worldwide.
Dr. Nyland and his wife Kathy have a grown son and daughter. In his spare time, he is an avid reader, dabbles in genealogy, does volunteer work, and jokes that he may be one of the "world's slowest runners."
You can learn more about Dr. Nyland and his work by visiting his blog.