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June 6, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Susan Enfield celebrated at her last Seattle School Board meeting

Tears flowed this afternoon as Seattle school officials publicly praised Susan Enfield at her last Seattle School Board meeting as interim superintendent.

Enfield, who will start as the chief of the Highline School District on July 1, is taking unused vacation time that is moving up her departure date to within the next week or so.

In an unexpected tribute, members of Enfield’s cabinet came to the microphone to offer words each thought best described her, from “genuine” to “courage.”

“Thank you for taking an institution that was in pretty extremely rotten waters a year ago and righting the ship and moving us forward,”Ron English, the interim general counsel, told Enfield, who took over for fired former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson in March 2011. “You did an enormous job.”

“Wow,” School Board President Michael DeBell said after the staff spoke. DeBell and his fellow board members took their turn later in the meeting, each thanking Enfield for her service.

Even Betty Patu, the only board member who voted against Enfield’s appointment as interim superintendent, praised her.

“There were times when (you) and I knocked heads, but I can always say that we were able to share our ideas together and see what was best for the kids,” she said.

In a moment of levity, board member Harium Martin-Morris spoke for more than a minute about Enfield’s rubber duck collection.

“That tells you a lot about the person as an individual, what they surround themselves with. Why ducks? What does it mean?” he said. “What it means is that this is a welcoming place, this is an open place, this is a place that also has a sense of humor.”

In turn, Enfield thanked the staff and board members for supporting her.

“It really has been my honor,” she said. “I know that you will continue the good work, you will ensure the success of (incoming Superinyendent Jose) Banda and the success of the students in this district, and again, I’m not far away.”

Comments | More in Education | Topics: Betty Patu, Harium Martin-Morris, Michael DeBell

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