Sports and Schools

Coupeville a good fit for interim schools chief

Karen Koschak has left retirement behind to guide the Coupeville School District as its interim superintendent for the next year as it searches for a permanent chief. - Elisabeth Murray
Karen Koschak has left retirement behind to guide the Coupeville School District as its interim superintendent for the next year as it searches for a permanent chief.
— image credit: Elisabeth Murray

After a month on the job, the interim superintendent for Coupeville Public Schools has confirmed a few things that she had suspected when she accepted the temporary position.

She has fallen in love with Coupeville and holds the district's employees in high regard.

Karen Koschak started her new job on July 1.

Moving from one meeting to the next, Koschak has been involved in training staff on the new state teacher evaluation process, working towards reaching collective bargaining agreements with the district's employees, and becoming acquainted with the community.

Koschak had said farewell to administrative work in 2011 after serving as superintendent of the Granite Falls School District for three years. Enrollment in Granite Falls is about 2,300 students.

She was enticed out of retirement for a one-year stint as Coupeville's chief to bridge the gap left when former Superintendent Patty Page accepted a job with the North Kitsap School District. Rather than rushing to choose from a limited pool of candidates, the Coupeville School Board opted to hire a temporary superintendent who will serve while the hiring process for a permanent replacement gets under way.

Koschak plans to rent a place in Coupeville while she carries out the duties of guiding the district and keeping its budget on track.

Before her time in Granite Falls, Koschak served as superintendent of the 4,000-student Aberdeen School District for eight years.

While Koschak's experience has been in districts with larger enrollment than Coupeville's, which hovers around 1,000 pupils, she describes Coupeville's small size as “perfect.”

“I grew up in a small town,” Koschak said. “I like the small-town environment.”

A smaller school district makes it a lot easier for her to learn the names of the all of the teachers and most of the students, she said.

Koschak said she’s looking forward to working in a community that she has visited many times as a tourist. One favorite event is the annual Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival, she said.

“It has felt like coming home for me,” Koschak said.

Some of the district's employees already are familiar with Koschak's leadership and teaching style.

When the state changed the way it evaluates principals and teachers, Koschak led training sessions that some of Coupeville's teachers and administrators attended last year.

Koschak also has 16 years of teaching experience in Marysville. While she no longer grades homework assignments or calls on raised hands, she said she always will be an educator at heart.

“The appeal of teaching is that moment when students make the connection, the 'aha' moment, when you see the look in their eyes and expression on their face,” Koschak said.

She said she welcomes the opportunity to return to the classroom to teach and has done so on occasion in her previous administrative jobs.

A huge fan of science, Koschak's face lights up as she explains her favorite teaching activities that incorporate hands-on learning that engages kids and gets them thinking.

Stepping back into the classroom is a reminder of the challenges – and rewards – of teaching, Koschak said.

“I love the profession,” Koschak said. “The impact you make is not just for today, but also for the future.”

The school district has a contract with search firm MacPherson and Jacobson, a national executive recruitment and development firm, to find a replacement superintendent for the 2013-2014 school year. The firm will begin the search process again this December. After the school board reviews the qualifications of the candidate pool, two or three final candidates will be invited for daylong interviews in the school district.


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