Last week, I was quietly eating my chicken salad sandwich in the lunchroom, when in walked someone with a smiling new face, who sat down next to me. It turned out to be Superintendent Larry Francois, who recently started his position at the NWESD on July 1st.We are all excited to have Larry here! Larry brings 13 years of experience as a superintendent (Lakewood and Northshore school districts), and 23 years overall experience, leadership and knowledge as an administrator in the region (Lake Washington, Snohomish, Mukilteo, Edmonds, Lakewood, and Northshore school districts). He’s also a really interesting person! Being of an inquisitive nature, I asked Larry a few things about himself over lunch. We chatted about first jobs, personal mottos and what inspires him. And I discovered that we have a rock star in our midst!
Ed: Congratulations on your new position at NWESD! I’m curious, what was your very first job?
LF: Thanks! When I was 9 or 10 years old, I was a paperboy. I biked a route with my brother and we delivered about 130 papers, of what is nowTheEverett Herald. We actually had to knock on doors to collect payments, which doesn’t happen anymore.
Ed: Do you have a personal motto?
LF: “Do it, Dump it, or Delegate it.” I probably heard this at a conference, but the phrase resonated with me. It’s something that I’ve had written on a tattered post-it-note on my desk, for 13 years. I like it because it gives you three simple choices for making decisions.
Ed: Who has been the most influential teacher in your life?
LF: Bruce Beeman, my Senior Issues teacher in high school. I was his teaching assistant and our friendship continued as adults. I didn’t enter college thinking I would go into education, but Bruce was a big influence on me to become a teacher, ironically, after college I became his teaching colleague. Actually, his school secretary at the time is now my wife of 24 years!
Ed: What inspires you?
LF: Coming from a school district environment, I find high school kids to be very impressive. They are so smart and the level of work they are doing is much more rigorous than when I was in school. I think the future is in really good hands. I know that success isn’t equal for all kids, and we have a lot of work to do to make that better, but the vast majority of young people are skilled, knowledgeable and dedicated. So much more than I was at 16, 17, 18 years old.
Ed: What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve received?
LF: It’s all about relationships and the personal connections between teachers and students, teachers and teachers, support staff and teachers. It’s about that quote, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Ed: What excites you most about your new position and what are your goals in your first year?
LF: Just the other day I went out to the San Juan Islands and Friday Harbor. Previously my work would never take me to those places. My goal is to visit all 35 districts to understand them better, see first-hand what makes them unique and get a grounded understanding of how each one works and how the NWESD can help meet their needs.
Ed: When you aren’t working what do you like to do?
LF: I’m a first time grandfather! Chloe is 14 months old and I like spending as much time with her as I can. We have a place over in eastern Washington near Chelan where I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife and I have three kids – a daughter who is 31, son 27 and another daughter 21, who is going to graduate from Western Washington University this summer. I like to golf, boat, and walk my dog – a 95 lb Rottweiler named Callie. She’s a big dope.
Ed: When do you get your best ideas?
LF: Usually at 2:30 a.m. I keep a pad next to my bed and the trick is trying to decipher what my notes mean in the morning.
Ed: Any hidden talents we should know about?
LF: I’m a singer in a classic rock band called “Crisis.” The guitar player and I have been friends since high school. We actually played in two gigs over the Fourth of July weekend.