This year’s state superintendent of the year is Edward Lee Vargas, honored in part for his efforts to infuse Kent schools with technology.
In announcing the honor, the Washington Association of School Administrators pointed to a number of awards the Kent School District has won since Vargas arrived in 2009, including its selection by Microsoft as an international model for how to use technology in the classroom.
The district also was selected to be part of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, a coalition of 40 school districts and 24 states committed to using technology effectively.
Kent, the state’s fourth-largest school district, has undergone rapid demographic changes in recent years. Five years before Vargas arrived, about one-third of its students were members of minority groups. Now the district is 53 percent minority, with immigrants from all over the world.
Vargas came to Kent from California, where he was that state’s superintendent of the year in 2006. Shortly after his arrival in Kent, the district started giving all seventh-graders laptops — theirs to keep until they finish high school.
In its elementary schools, the district has a 3 to 1 ratio of students to computers, and for families without Internet access, the district has put up kiosks in three King County Housing Authority apartment complexes. It plans to put many others in convenience stores, supermarkets, even medical offices.
The Kent School Board was honored this past week, too, by its professional group, the Washington State School Directors Association.
For the third year in a row, the board has been named a “board of distinction,” one of 15 across the state to receive that award.