UPDATE: Updated at 10:26 p.m. with a statement from Dr. Susan Enfield.
Dr. Susan Enfield, who hails from Portland, Oregon, was appointed as the district's interim superintendent today, minutes after the Seattle School Board unanimously terminated superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson's contract with the school district.
According to her contract, Enfield will earn an annual salary of $225.000 plus benefits. Her contract with the district will continue until June 30, 2012, and the board will decide whether to extend it or begin a search for a new superintendent before Jan. 19, 2012. In a statement (.pdf) released right after her appointment, Enfield said that the "district's immediate priority is to restore public trust in the Seattle Public Schools."post on Slog today.
It's a tad difficult to picture the cool, composed Enfield—usually spotted at Seattle School Board meetings making presentations in stylish suits—disguised as a french fry. But it's not hard to picture her transitioning into the role of interim superintendent of the Seattle Public Schools.
Eloquent, to the point, and definitely more approachable than Goodloe-Johnon, Enfield seized her new duty Wednesday with enthusiasm, acknowledging the district's past blunders, and yet eager to make changes. She promised to continue with an "open door policy," and communicate frankly with teachers, principals, and the community. At least one board director, Betty Patu, voted against Enfield's appointment, voicing disapproval over some of her earlier decisions, including closing down school programs without informing the community properly. Other board members described her as "the real deal"— smart, capable, and highly qualified.
It was Goodloe-Johnson who hired Enfield as the district's chief academic officer in July 2009 from a national pool of applicants, putting her in charge of curriculum, teaching, and testing, and the district's schools. Enfield succeeded former chief academic officer Carla Santamo, who left to become deputy superintendent in Tacoma.
Enfield was named a finalist for the position of superintendent of the Bellevue School District in 2009. She came to Seattle Public Schools after a stint as deputy superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Wash., where her achievements included nearly doubling the number of advanced placement students, according to SPS. Before that, Enfield was director of teaching and learning at Portland Public Schools and director of the bureau of teaching and learning support at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She started her career in education as a high school English, ESL, and journalism teacher in Cupertino, Calif.
Enfield's credentials are impressive—she has graduate degrees from Harvard and Stanford, and an undergraduate degree in English from UC Berkeley, where she was a school improvement coach. You can find her detailed resume on Linkedin.
While some community members seem relieved at the prospect of having someone with Enfield's background and experience ready to step into Maria Goodloe-Johnson's shoes, others remain skeptical, wondering if she'd be more of the same. There are those who feel that although Enfield might be a strong administrator, she lacks experience in finance, something that's extremely important to help a cash-strapped district like Seattle Public Schools stay afloat. "I will work to ensure that our financial and operational issues do not detract from the quality of day-to-day teaching and learning in our classrooms," Enfield said Wednesday.
Enfield presented the controversial proposal to bring national nonprofit Teach for America to Seattle before the school board last year, stressing that TFA candidates would create a more diverse applicant pool. Although the Seattle teachers union opposed TFA, arguing that there was no dearth of qualified teachers in Seattle, the school board ultimately voted to approve a contract to bring TFA to Seattle.
So far, my only interactions with Enfield have been over the phone, and she's answered my questions frankly, with confidence. Her appointment as interim superintendent comes at a time when the school district is still reeling from the shock of a big scandal, and although she has little more than a year to prove herself in a job that puts her in charge of the largest school district in the state, her pledge to have an "open door policy" is the right way to go about it.