Superintendent of the year in Los Angeles County is a popular leader at Glendale Unified

By Munina Lam

Despite the gloomy skies on Tuesday morning, cheers and applause brightened the mood in Crescenta Valley High School’s quad where Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Vivian Ekchian was celebrated for being selected as the 2022 Los Angeles County Superintendent of the Year.

Ekchian, surprised by the reception from students, staff, community members and leaders from the L.A. County Office of Education (LACOE), was all smiles as she made her way to the podium.

The LACOE award was created in 2017 to recognize leadership in learning, excellence in communication and dedicated community involvement. Debra Duardo, the Los Angeles County superintendent of schools, lauded Ekchian’s efforts in refocusing Glendale Unified’s strategy for student achievement and implementing a “robust plan” for students and parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dr. Ekchian has analyzed every aspect of the student experience and worked to create a seamless K-12 transition that promotes academic success,”  Duardo said. “That, coupled with her dedication to equity and wellness, will impact the lives of students in Glendale for generations.”

Glendale Unified is the third-largest Los Angeles County school district serving over 24,000 students, where 40.9% of the students are Armenian. Glendale Unified’s 2020-2021 cohort had a 91.7% graduation rate.

Ekchian, who has over 30 years of experience in education, worked for the L.A. Unified School District prior to her tenure at Glendale Unified. In 2018, Ekchian was on a short list of four candidates under consideration to become LAUSD’s new superintendent, a job that went to Austin Beutner who was superintendent until mid-2021.

Some of her roles have included teacher assistant, classroom teacher, chief human resources officer and chief labor negotiator. Ekchian is also Glendale Unified’s first female and first Armenian American superintendent, according to the L.A. Times, sharing the same background as a majority of the district’s students.

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While Ekchian was happy to learn about her selection as superintendent of the year, she acknowledged how grateful she was that her family could witness the moment and how her work could not be achieved without a group effort.

“This is part of a larger team that works so very hard to serve our youth — I happen to be holding the recognition, but it’s really on behalf of everyone that works in my school district and the community members who support education in Glendale,” she said.

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