It has been a month since Los Angeles Unified School District families found out Superintendent Michelle King will be retiring after being diagnosed with cancer. King’s medical leave began on Sept. 15 and was expected to return on Jan. 22. After much consideration of the medical circumstances she is in, King chose that retiring would be the best option since she wasn’t confident enough in her health to return. King has been described as hardworking, reliable and loyal and has made history by becoming the first black woman in the position of superintendent of LAUSD.
Vivian Ekchian, who was appointed Jan. 8 as the interim superintendent, is fully dedicated to carrying out King’s legacy and is very optimistic about her future in this position.
Here is a Q & A with Vivian Ekchian, formerly the local superintendent in Local District Office Northwest, which includes Daniel Pearl Magnet High School:
What academic degrees do you have?
“I have a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Northridge and I have a teaching credential from Cal State Northridge. I have a masters from UCLA and I have an administrative credential from UCLA and then I have a tier-two credential from Cal Lutheran and now I am in an Urban Leadership Doctor Program at USC, so I’m a lifelong learner. Although I don’t have a degree from Pierce, I want you to know that I first started my college education at Pierce College.”
What was one thing that really made you interested in wanting to pursue a career in education?
“I love working with children. I think education is a game changer for all kids and in order to be successful in life you have to obtain a quality education. So, I wanted to be part of that experience of helping kids succeed.”
Growing up, did you always want to work in a school environment?
“No, I only became interested in working at schools after I became a teacher’s assistant in one of our schools while I was going to college. But, I knew the day I started as a TA, that that was going to be my calling because I loved working with students and teaching them.”
Why and how were you given the position of interim superintendent?
“I was given the position of Interim Superintendent because Dr. King and the current Board of Education felt that I was ready and capable of performing as an interim superintendent.”
Was there a process to be given the position of interim superintendent?
“Not as an interim superintendent, I think the process is that I was working every day to do what’s best for our students and there was trust and credibility. As an Interim Superintendent, the process was for the board to have a discussion as to whether they wanted to trust me with those responsibilities.”
What are some of your responsibilities as interim superintendent?
“The most important responsibility is that we focus on the learning of our students, every day. So, that they graduate with a college career and life readiness, in environments that are safe and conducive for learning.”
What are some of your goals while you’re in this interim position?
“My goal is to make sure that the instruction in our classrooms is first class and that our students graduate, globally competitive. I want to introduce a significant number of dual language programs in our schools and that we offer wrap around services for our students, so that every child can be successful in LAUSD. Mental, social, emotional and academic health of every student is front and center and of utmost importance to me.”
What are your priorities for schools or students while you’re in the interim position?
“My priority is for all students and their parents and community members to know that kids come first and that every decision I will make, will be around what’s best for our students. I want to make sure that our school environments are clean, safe and welcoming. I want to make sure that every student is encouraged to come to school every day because attendance is an investment in college career and life. So, every day that you come to school, it is as if you are depositing funds towards your college future.”
Do you plan to apply for the permanent position? Why or why not?
“Yes, I plan to apply for the permanent position because I think I am the best person for the job and that I care deeply for my district, my students, employees and communities. I would like to continue the important work that is happening without any interruptions.”
Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
“I would like to say that I have taken on this set of responsibilities without reservations, that I am a steady and strategic leader, who always puts kids’ interests first.”
You can find more information on Vivian Ekchian and LAUSD at lausd.net