The Lake Washington School District has hired a new superintendent, Dr. Jon Holmen. He will replace Dr. Jane Stavem, who resigned earlier this month after serving less than two years on the job. Holmen takes over at an unprecedented time in both the history of the district and the state, with all schools completely shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Lake Washington faces a particularly unique challenge as the epicenter of the national outbreak – the city of Kirkland – is located within the boundaries of the district.
The day after being offered the position, Dr. Holmen sent out a powerful and encouraging letter to all staff, parents and the greater Lake Washington School District community. We’ve reprinted that letter below. His core values are especially worth reading.
Dear LWSD Staff and Community:
On Monday, March 23, the Lake Washington School District Board of Directors voted to enter into contract negotiations with me to serve as the next Superintendent in Lake Washington School District. I am tremendously honored to be in this position and will continue to focus my efforts to partner with the various stakeholder groups to improve conditions for all students to be successful. We are in the midst of a very complex public health event that continues to evolve and change every day. The significance of this event can’t be understated, and I know we will continue to navigate each new challenge as a community.
I was hired in the Spring of 1999 as an elementary teacher in Lake Washington School District. I distinctly remember my first class of third grade students at Benjamin Rush Elementary. The students taught me so much about teaching, learning, and addressing the unique needs of each student. The core values that I held then as an educator I still hold today, and they have consistently guided my work over the years:
- I believe every student has the ability to learn.
- I believe every student has the right to an exceptional education.
- I believe every student should have the space to be themselves.
- I believe that every student has greatness inside themselves.
These core values have driven me each and every day to do my best for students, staff, families, and the organization. I believe our work as a school district is about supporting the development of young people as they make decisions about their life and their future.
We are a very unique community. Many families have historical roots in Lake Washington School District and many families have moved here from across the globe. The diversity of our community allows our students to have a global experience that supports our vision to prepare our students to be citizens of the world. As a community we need to be thoughtful about our partnerships that enhance community development and increase student success. Focusing on the varied stakeholders within the community, Lake Washington School District will continue to work with and identify strategic public and private partnerships.
As a long-time employee of Lake Washington School District, I have seen many changes over the last 20 years. I have served under five superintendents, the district has grown by 10,000 students, and our cities have changed into urban hubs supporting the business and industry on the Eastside and Seattle. What hasn’t changed is our responsibility to address the needs of students each and every day. I see this as a shared responsibility, and we are fortunate to have a community and families that support these efforts and a community that places high value on education. Another constant throughout my career has been the high-quality staff that have chosen to work in Lake Washington School District. Throughout the district there is excellence and our students are fortunate to be taught and supported by dedicated and remarkable staff.
As Superintendent I hope to continue the great tradition of excellence in Lake Washington School District while evaluating the systems and structures to ensure we continue to improve conditions for students. If we are committed to our mission of graduating each student and our vision of graduating future ready students; we must continue to improve. Lake Washington School District is a high performing school district yet there are students who are not experiencing the same success as their peers. It is critical that we have a deep sense of urgency as we address the needs of each Lake Washington School District student. We are all in this together because we are a community. We are unique cities and regions and we are united to create the Lake Washington School District family.
I am fortunate to have had the tremendous opportunity to grow, learn, and serve alongside outstanding staff, remarkable families, and amazing students. I am humbled and honored to take on the role of Superintendent. I am committed to continuing to foster growth and change as we work to address the needs of each student we serve. I look forward to addressing the challenges we face as a district and continuing to serve Lake Washington School District students with dedication, integrity and resolve.
Jon Holmen, Ed.D.