In his announcement of Dr. Peter Scott’s selection as an executive director, Superintendent Cohn noted Scott’s leadership success. “Under Peter’s leadership, Gateway has been one of the top performing middle schools in the state, consistently outperforming schools of similar size and demographics. Gateway has been a Washington School of Achievement for the last four years – a recognition given only to the state’s top 5 percent of high performing schools that consistently improve student achievement. Earning successive honors over time becomes more challenging each year,” noted Cohn.
In his new position, which will begin July 1, Scott will oversee a segment of the district’s 26 different schools. His selection to be an executive director followed closely his being named the state’s top administrator by the Washington Association of Educational Office Professionals (WAEOP).
“The coincidental close timing of Peter’s recognition by school staff office professionals and his selection to help lead student achievement efforts at the district level is a concrete affirmation of how widely regarded he is by everyone across the district. This is because of his focus on the needs of each student, his leadership skills, and the relationships he forges with staff, parents and the community,” said Cohn.
The accolades about Scott in Cohn’s announcement and the comments in the WAEOP nomination affirm Scott’s abilities.
Gateway’s registrar and counseling secretary Pam James was WAEOP’s area director for Snohomish County and is the current president-elect. She details Scott’s emphasis on continual improvement for each staff member as a way to support learning for each student. “He is enthusiastic when I talk about professional development events WAEOP plans and how we are helping other office professionals learn and grow. He welcomes classified staff to all general staff meetings and wants us to be part of the trainings and discussions offered to classroom teachers. We feel appreciated, respected and supported as integral to student success.”
Gateway’s lead math teacher Jessica Lutthans points to Scott’s connection with parents as one of the ways he’s fostered bridges between school and family. “He has continued to make connections with parents. Our PTSA membership levels have never been higher.” In 2010 the school PTSA recognized Scott with the Outstanding Educator Award.
Stacy Dachenhausen, seventh-grade language arts, reading and social studies teacher at Gateway, believes that student achievement at Gateway is “… a reflection of the hard work of students and staff …” and “… first and foremost a reflection of the high expectations Peter has for each of us as educators and students. Peter leads by example, expecting as much, if not more from himself, than he does from all of us.”
Lutthans notes that he is a role model for lifelong learning as well as a good sport. “Students learn he takes lifelong learning seriously when he schedules events and assemblies, and we celebrated the award of his doctoral degree, but they also know he has a sense of humor since he dresses up in costumes on Spirit Days. He once agreed to have a pie thrown in his face to the surprise and delight of the school audience, and he did a dance competition with a student to a Michael Jackson song. Students and teachers both know that Dr. Scott cares about them and has high expectations of them.”
Scott began his education career as a teacher in what he terms “… under-resourced urban schools. I was motivated then – as I am now – by a desire to ensure each student receives quality instruction, a safe classroom, an expanding world view, and preparation for a successful future, no matter what each student’s life circumstances might predict.” He was a special education teacher in Oakland, California, a math teacher in Boston and a team leader in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While he was in the Boston and Cambridge area, he earned a Master of Education degree from Harvard. Before becoming an assistant principal at Evergreen Middle School in 2006, he held that position for a school in San Diego.
In 2008 he moved from Evergreen to Gateway. In his time working with middle school students in this district, he earned a Doctor of Education degree in 2011 from the University of Washington – and celebrated that milestone with students and staff at Gateway. “Thinking systemically, trying to solve complex problems, working with parents and community members, helping students grow academically and socially … this is immensely fulfilling work,” Scott says of his work as a school administrator.
Scott knows he has big shoes to fill as he steps into the executive director position when Jim McNally retires at the end of the school year. “Jim has been an educator since 1978 and an administrator in this district since 1985. He has invaluable knowledge and understanding of the district and its communities. He is beloved by those who have been fortunate to work with him. I’ll be spending a lot of time with Jim between now and July, and I’ve already confirmed that he is willing to take my phone calls when I reach out for his perspective – which I intend to do.”