First published in the Oct. 15 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Vivian Ekchian was named this week as the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Superintendent of the Year.
Officials surprised Ekchian with the announcement during a visit to Crescenta Valley High School on Tuesday morning, under the guise of touring the school’s wellness classroom. (Those county officials indeed toured that room afterward.) LACOE hailed Ekchian as a “transformational leader” whose ability to foster community partnerships and student-centric approach made her a unique asset for GUSD.
“I was so excited when I found out who was selected,” said Debra Duardo, the Los Angeles County Superintendent, who previously worked with Ekchian at Los Angeles Unified. “She’s been a role model, a mentor, a woman that I have such respect for and high regard.”
Duardo observed that Ekchian had been nominated for the award each year since GUSD hired her in 2019 and contended that the only reason she was only now receiving it was because rules dictate that the nominee has worked as a superintendent for three consecutive years — in other words, this was the soonest she could win it.
Since joining the district, Ekchian has spent most of her tenure navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, all while bolstering programming and building various partnerships with institutions throughout the city to offer schoolchildren internships, other educational opportunities and child care.
At LAUSD, Ekchian served a variety of roles, including teacher assistant, classroom teacher, principal, director of instruction, chief of staff to the superintendent, chief human resource officer, chief labor negotiator and as a district associate and interim superintendent.
“She is so beautiful inside and cares so deeply about her family, about the children, about the community, so we really hit the lottery with this one,” Duardo said.
Ekchian, who was greeted by a horde of her peers, colleagues and the CVHS marching band, said she was grateful for the recognition and humbly gave credit to others who help make GUSD run daily.
“I’m just the fortunate who happens to be in the position of leadership,” she said. “If it wasn’t for everyone that’s here and those that are at school sites, our school district would not have been recognized for the work that we’re doing for our students, our parents and our community. I want to share this beautiful opportunity with my entire team here, because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”
The GUSD Board of Education recently renewed Ekchian’s contract for another four years. Board President Nayiri Nahabedian on Tuesday lauded Ekchian for her “passion, commitment and concrete ability to get things done” and for often starting work at 4:30 in the morning.
“We’re very, very blessed to have Dr. Ekchian,” Nahabedian said.