Chief Sealth International High School principal John Boyd leaving

July 13, 2011 at 10:29 am | In Denny-Sealth, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 31 Comments

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated since original publication with the addition of a letter from SPS Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield regarding the process for choosing a new Sealth principal.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“After seven years, I’m ready to do something different, and challenge myself in different ways,” explains John Boyd, announcing his departure as the longtime principal of Chief Sealth International High School, which is also his alma mater.

Boyd has accepted a position as an executive director, supervising principals and schools, for Highline Public Schools, the district immediately south of Seattle, and the new job won’t take him far – his part of that district will include White Center.

He is announcing his resignation with a letter today (read it at the end of this story). Boyd also spoke with West Seattle Blog, and told us: “I had three main goals when I came to Sealth – improve the image of the school, recruit neighborhood kids – make it a place where people in the community felt like they could send their kids – and to improve academic achievement. I feel good about making progress in all those areas.”

Sealth was in the spotlight last fall as it moved into a newly renovated building, and this year brings another milestone – Seattle Public Schools’ first co-located middle and high schools, as the new Denny International Middle School opens next door. Sealth’s enrollment is skyrocketing, too, “going from 800 students to more than 1,100, and (next year) close to 1,200, with the second-highest wait list behind Garfield,” Boyd notes.

To help with the transition, he says, he will stay on at Sealth “as long as Susan (Enfield, interim SPS superintendent) needs me. … It’s really important that there’s continuity, I told (both districts). I’ll have my fingers in both worlds for a while.”

But he’s confident Sealth has a bright future, even under somebody else’s leadership: “The school’s at a place where it will continue to thrive and succeed. There’s a great group of people in place there. It’s a school that people have a lot of confidence in.”

Click ahead to read Boyd’s letter to the Sealth community (and, added 11:55 am, Dr. Enfield’s letter to the Sealth community explaining the principal-selection process):

Dear Chief Sealth International High Community,

I am writing to share with you that in the last few days, I have been offered and accepted an Executive Director of Schools position with Highline Public Schools. At the outset, I would like you to know that it was not an easy choice to leave Chief Sealth. My time as the principal of Chief Sealth has been the most personally and professionally rewarding years of my educational career.

When I assumed this position in July of 2004, there were many challenges facing Chief Sealth. At that time, I set three goals for myself and the school:

· Raise academic achievement for all students,
· Improve the image of the school, and
· Increase enrollment through making Chief Sealth attractive to neighborhood students.

I am proud to say that each of these goals has been met.

· Student achievement on standardized assessments has increased by 40% in math, 25% in reading, 22% in science and 21% in writing.
· Chief Sealth is in a beautifully remodeled facility and is known for its rigorous academic offerings, its successful athletics teams, and its award winning arts programs.
· Student enrollment has risen by 400 students with high neighborhood demand.
Having accomplished these things, it is time for me to move forward with my own professional growth and to allow for Chief Sealth to continue its development under a new principal who will approach the position with a fresh set of eyes as I did seven years ago.

As the parent of the three Chief Sealth students I leave with the knowledge that they and their classmates are in the capable hands of a talented and dedicated staff. It has been a pleasure to spend my days with real professionals and observe their commitment to serving all students. As Chief Sealth approaches the first year sharing a campus with Denny International Middle School, I look forward to watching the two schools collaborate providing an excellent vertically aligned learning experience from grades 6 through 12.

Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield will be sharing with the community more information regarding the identification of Chief Sealth’s next principal. I know that Dr. Enfield, as well as School Board President Steve Sundquist and Executive Director Aurora Lora, are committed to the continued well-being of Chief Sealth. I will remain in my position as principal through August 5, 2011, and will continue to make myself available to assist in this transition for as long as I am needed.

Being the principal of my alma matter has been deeply rewarding. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the community where I grew up and to serve the children and families of Chief Sealth. As a lifelong Delridge resident, one of the exciting things about my new position is that I will be supervising and supporting 13 schools in Highline’s north region where I will continue to work in the community in my community. I also look forward to seeing you as a proud parent at future Chief Sealth activities and events. I wish the staff, students and families of Chief Sealth the very best for the 2011-2012 school year and the future. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your principal for the past seven years.
Sincerely,

John L. Boyd
Principal
Chief Sealth International
High School

ADDED 11:55 AM: The letter sent to Sealth families by SPS’s interim superintendent:

Dear students, families and staff of Chief Sealth International High School:

I am writing to let you know about a leadership change at Chief Sealth this fall. Principal John Boyd is leaving Seattle Public Schools to become an Executive Director of Schools in the Highline School District.

Mr. Boyd has been a strong and highly regarded principal who has worked hard to put Chief Sealth students on the road to academic success, and I appreciate all that he has done to guide your school. I also want to take an opportunity to thank the entire Chief Sealth International High School community for the positive learning environment that you have created.

We are committed to building upon the solid foundation that Mr. Boyd established and will let you know as soon as we have determined the timeline for selecting a new principal. The Chief Sealth community will have opportunities to provide input into this process, knowing that we will be on a quick timeline to have someone in place for the start of school.

Mr. Boyd’s last day with Seattle will be Aug. 5, but he is graciously making himself available to help with a transition to a new principal. Please join me in thanking Mr. Boyd for his service and wishing him success in his new endeavor.

Sincerely,

Dr. Susan Enfield
Interim Superintendent

31 Comments

  1. Sealth’s loss will be Highline’s gain. Good luck to Mr. Boyd.

    Comment by AIEC — 10:45 am July 13, 2011 #

  2. This is my worse nightmare coming true! The district better put a strong principal at Sealth not a washed-up has been that they don’t know what to do with and they better not touch Mr.Reed!

    Comment by Slider — 10:45 am July 13, 2011 #

  3. Tough shoes to fill.

    Comment by DBurns — 10:49 am July 13, 2011 #

  4. Although I have no faith in our new superintendent and these shoes will be tough to fill, I pray that we get someone strong and that they don’t just fill us with the leftovers like they have done in other schools with great communities behind them. Highline will be all the better for their good choice!

    Comment by PLC — 11:02 am July 13, 2011 #

  5. Too bad he didn’t leave two years ago before he destroyed the music program and caused the most talented and dedicated teacher (of 10 years) to quit.

    Comment by Trololol — 11:58 am July 13, 2011 #

  6. As a Sealth parent AND someone who has worked in Highline for over 20 years….ERAC is messed up and full of disfunctional administrators, so sad Boyd will become a part of it. He will become one of them…there is no way around it. He is an awesome principal who is doomed for failure. I am so sorry.

    Comment by nnnnoooooo — 12:05 pm July 13, 2011 #

  7. Trolol,

    I completely disagree. The Chief Sealth band is phenomenal compared to what it was previously. The band has almost tippled in size, reflecting that the current instructor welcomes participation by all students. But to each his own.

    Comment by Marie — 12:20 pm July 13, 2011 #

  8. John we will miss you at Sealth but look forward to working together at Highline’s North end schools. Best of Luck from ETS.

    Comment by Sebastian — 1:55 pm July 13, 2011 #

  9. Sealth is definitely better for John Boyd’s being there. I live in the ‘hood and have dropped into the school a few times over the years to look around. I’ve seen the difference Principal Boyd has made in staff attitude and school spirit since he’s been there. So he gets an ‘A’, plus extra credit points for being a local boy who stayed AND for having his own kids at the school.
    .
    His work at Sealth done, Principal Boyd is now moving on to help out in another district.
    .
    (Citizens, take note: This is how one person helps make a better world for all.)

    Comment by DP — 2:57 pm July 13, 2011 #

  10. Well that sucks for us. I hope he can make a difference, he will be challenged that is for sure!

    Comment by Darn — 9:09 pm July 13, 2011 #

  11. Well Marie, the problem with that stance is that contrary to popular belief, band isn’t the only music class at Sealth and the people in those other ensembles aren’t exactly happy to be collateral damage in the name of the growth of an ensemble that they aren’t necessarily a part of.

    Comment by Trololol — 2:10 am July 14, 2011 #

  12. No need to hijack this thread, but I agree with Marie. I also think that the orchasetra has greatly improved and that the steel drum progam is highly entertaining. I was thrilled to see a second jazz band form so that all kids who wanted to play jazz had access. It is unfortunate that the teacher you reference wasn’t satisfied with working with the other ensembles and was only happy being the lone teacher. To me, that smacks of putting ego above kids. If you want to debate this topic, let’s take it to a forum and leave this thread be.

    Comment by WSSW — 7:42 am July 14, 2011 #

  13. Trololol – I will say off the top that I am admittedly a bit bias here since I am the current band director at Chief Sealth, but in the hope of moving on, I will chime in. I think you are being a bit unfair in your characterization that Mr. Boyd somehow destroyed the music program at Sealth by reassigning the responsibilities for the band class. As you yourself indicated band is not the only music class at Sealth. The previous instructor still had a full time gig teaching all of the other ensembles that she previously instructed (choir, mariachi, jazz band, piano). She was the one who decided that if she did not have the band class she was going to leave. I agree with you that she was (and still is) an extremely talented musician and teacher who dedicated a great deal of heart and energy into the music program at Chief Sealth. I know firsthand that the students that participated in her program admired her and are very disappointed to see her go. That said, Marie is also correct that there were a great many students that were not being served by having all of the music classes at Sealth taught by the same teacher. The result of Mr. Boyd’s decision has been growth, not destruction and the numbers speak for themselves. In the past two years the Chief Sealth Band has grown from 35 students participating to over 100 signed up this fall. The band has been more actively performing throughout the community and the level of performance has improved. The growth in the band has allowed us to tackle some very challenging literature that could not have previously been approached with the small numbers we were seeing before. In fact, the single band class now serves more students in one class than all of the other Chief Sealth music classes combined.

    Our responsibility now is to bring in a dynamic choral teacher who will inspire and excite the general student body about choral music and who will recognize that the choral program is just as important, just as valuable, and can be just as vibrant as our band program. I am committed to doing my part to finding and bringing that teacher to Sealth. I think you do a great disservice to the previous teacher (and to the great teachers who came before her as Sealth had a dynamic choral program even back in the 90’s) to even suggest that the end result of her 10 year investment is a program too weak to survive a change in teacher, a change in principal, or a change in whatever. Whatever your opinion on Mr. Boyd, he has not destroyed the Sealth music program. I have enjoyed working with him. I am excited to see what lies ahead for him and optimistic about the continued improvement of all of the programs at Chief Sealth H.S. as he moves on and new leadership comes in. As Mr. Boyd seemed to suggest, fresh energy and eyes can be a good thing.

    Comment by Marcus Pimpleton — 8:14 am July 14, 2011 #

  14. As principal, Boyd was great at schmoozing! he is the best PR person I ever worked with. However, leadership skills are greatle lacking.
    Raise test scores? Import Highly Gifted Eigth graders as a group from Pathfinder by schmoozing the PTSA.
    Raise student enrollment? New campus- however, there are now not enough classrooms to hold the increase – oh, oh! We told you Noyd, but you don’t listen nor do you support your teachers. In the ranks.
    Boyd let’s a small cadre lead the decision making, which is a sign of leadership, however that cadre is never made up of the most intelligent nor is the decision process dependent ok logical results. One mistake is usually foowef by date control, followed by more damage control (is: block schedue, now 48 min periods to match middle school, studyhall for HS w/disregard for effectiveness, the list goes ok and on)
    Academic progress? Check out those Pathfinder ninth-graders THEN check out how many IN student actually EARN IB crest vs just being enrolled In impressive IB class (science classes an exception!!)
    Bye Boyd – Good riddance!

    Comment by teacher — 11:58 am July 14, 2011 #

  15. By ALL measures Chief Sealth is a much better school than before Mr. Boyd joined. I think he is great, and challenge anyone to name one single (objective) measure that is worse now than before.

    I am just sad there is not more access to CSIHS for non attendance students who have been artificially gerrymandered into West Seattle HS.

    And, PS. I love the band and steel drums, too!

    Comment by WSParent — 12:10 pm July 14, 2011 #

  16. Wow, sorry that Boyd is leaving and “teacher” is staying.

    As a Sealth Alum, a neighbor of the school and an active supporter of Sealth, John’s done a great deal right, and deserves appropriate recognition for Chief Sealth’s rise as a strong high school, both academically and in the community.

    Comment by Denny — 1:34 pm July 14, 2011 #

  17. I am very sorry to see John Boyd leave Chief Sealth. He has really been instrumental in turning the school around. I love the changes in the music program which is now accessible to so many more kids and I can’t wait to see it grow and develop even more. I am also pleased that Sealth has an IB program and that IB music will now be offered.
    Mr Boyd has made a lot of big changes, and with change there is resistance, as we can see by a few of the comments here. But without change, there is often no growth. I will choose growth any time. I can only hope that Sealth will continue to grow under new leadership, and I hope his successor is chosen carefully.

    Comment by Suzanne — 2:07 pm July 14, 2011 #

  18. This is just another example of good talking principals who’s lack of effective leadership is disguised by their effective schmoozing. It is a natural progression in this type of principals career to climb the ladder and get out of the building and it’s problems. I’m sure Boyd looked at Brockman (former WSHS and Ballard principal) and was envious at Brockmans new Director of Schools job and the big pay boost. Like Boyd, Brockman is a great guy but lacked the tools needed to be a leader. Good luck to Sealth in finding a keeper.

    Comment by Dean — 2:11 pm July 14, 2011 #

  19. Teacher, I hope that you don’t teach English! I find it completely scandalous for a teacher of any subject to have such poor writing skills.

    Comment by Noelle — 2:13 pm July 14, 2011 #

  20. Wow, lots of axes to grind here. Presonally I am very happy with Marcus Pimpleton’s leadership and energy. He is an impressive person.

    Comment by hoffanimal — 8:52 pm July 14, 2011 #

  21. Wow, heaven forbid anyone posts a different point of view. Let’s all just point out spelling mistakes like preteens flaming on Youtube.

    Comment by Trololol — 11:54 pm July 14, 2011 #

  22. I think it is perfectly fair for people to point out that “teacher’s” post was riddled with grammar errors, mispellings, and non-sensical statements. (Frankly, I got the impression that “teacher” may have committed the faux pas of drinking and posting). If one is professing to be a professional educator, one should be professional in interactions with the community. Has nothing to do with “teacher’s” point of view, has everything to do with a lack of apparent professionalism.

    Comment by Marie — 7:51 am July 15, 2011 #

  23. But it is still true – look the number of kids enrolled in IB courses versus the number who will actually receive the credit. Look at test scores, where a large percentage of the school can’t pass the standardized math exams. Look at correlation of race to grade. John Boyd did not do much to change the academic progress of the school, or much else at any rate. I am glad for you if you had a positive experience with him, but many, including myself, and several teachers, have had nothing but grief and issues.

    Comment by Hmm... — 10:07 am July 15, 2011 #

  24. This is a blog people. No one cares about conventions. Concentrating on something insignificant like that just makes you look childish and like you don’t have anything to contribute. We didn’t personally attack the people with contrasting views, we were just excersising our right to voice our own opinion. If you don’t like it, fine. But don’t start this petty nonsense. Have a nice f***in day.

    Comment by trololol — 6:55 pm July 15, 2011 #

  25. As someone who’s been involved in the Sealth community in a variety of capacities for a decade and worked at Sealth before Mr. Boyd arrived, I can attest to the drastic improvements the school as a whole has made under Mr. Boyd’s tenure. There is a huge sense of school spirit and pride amongst both the student body and staff which has increased greatly within the past five years thanks to Mr. Boyd, Mr. Reed, and many other dedicated staff members. Those of you who hide behind the anonymity of a screen name and blast those who’ve dedicated their lives and existence to helping kids is an act of cowardice in itself and it absolutely disgusts me. I am simply a peon in terms of my positions in the district and at Sealth, but I’ve watched first hand the transformation that Mr. Boyd has spearheaded with his leadership within that school and its been refreshing to see a high school that in the mid to late 90′s was considered one of the worst in the district rise to the point it is at now. I hope Mr. Boyd leaves knowing that many appreciate his years of dedication to the school and community and he’s achieved what many of you ‘haters’ never will; he’s leaving a place having made it much better than it was when he got there. Thanks for seven great years Mr. Boyd!

    Comment by sealthseahawk — 11:59 pm July 15, 2011 #

  26. Mr. Boyd. As a parting gift please free up some spots to clear the WAIT LIST!!

    The NSAP purposefully overcrowded Chief Sealth (by mapping 6 elementary schools there vs 4 for WSHS) and now dozens of local students will be denied access to the IB program, while over 100 seats sit empty at WSHS. We were promised 10% “choice” seats. Where are they?

    Comment by wsparent — 8:08 am July 16, 2011 #

  27. How do I sign my kid up for Denny??

    Comment by mee — 2:30 pm July 18, 2011 #

  28. Mee – It looks like the enrollment folks will be at Westwood Village to register people for schools in West Seattle next week. This might be an easy way to sign a student up for Denny. http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/calendar/showCalendarDay.phtml?oc_id=12618&&year=2011&month=7&day=27&eid=62297386&sessionid=ae2702d714b44181ae290397add0a617

    Comment by Marvus Pimpleton — 10:15 pm July 18, 2011 #

  29. As someone who has known John since he was a sophomore in high school, I am happy he found something that will stimulate and take him to explore new vistas.

    That said, I was at Sealth this year helping with the basketball program and as someone who has been around 30 years at various schools I was so impressed with the joie de vivre that Principal Boyd and so many others have entrenched at the new-look Sealth HS.

    I have never seen better behaved and more spiritual kids in my life. I was blessed to have been able to spend some time around this stunning renaissance.

    The credit goes to many, but the skipper will be missed.

    As far as the haters, turn back the clock less than a decade ago and check the algorithms, then plot a new tack to keep your souls headed to the Light.

    All my best,
    Coach K

    Comment by Coach K — 1:49 pm July 21, 2011 #

  30. I nominate BEN BROOKS for school principal!!

    Comment by Seahawk — 6:16 pm August 2, 2011 #

  31. PS – the Sealth band hasn’t been worth a darn since the days of the immortal Ray English, the true “Musical Boy”.

    Comment by Seahawk — 6:20 pm August 2, 2011 #

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