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St. Louis Public Schools' new superintendent wants to celebrate victories in the district

Dr. Keisha Scarlett, formerly of the Seattle Public Schools, has been named the next St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent.
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Keisha Scarlett will become St. Louis Public Schools superintendent on July 1.

St. Louis Public Schools has chosen its next superintendent. Seattle Public Schools administrator Keisha Scarlett will lead the district beginning in the summer, succeeding Kelvin Adams, who retired after more than 14 years at the helm of the city schools.

Scarlett is currently chief academic officer and assistant superintendent of academics for Seattle Public Schools, where she has worked since 1999. She has also been chief of equity, partnerships and engagement in the district and a teacher and principal. In 2014, she was named Washington State Middle Level Principal of the Year.

“I implemented policy work in order to ensure that our schools and communities were places that were inclusive, where every single person feels seen and heard and valued,” Scarlett said in a video interview that was part of SLPS’s search process. “And so that is at the core of the work in leadership.”

As superintendent, Scarlett told the district, she wants to focus on student achievement, as well as making school environments welcoming and safe. She said during the interview process that meeting with students and driving through St. Louis neighborhoods led her to see herself in the role.

Seattle administrator will be new superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools

“I am excited about the stability of having a long-term superintendent and what that has created, but also the aspirations for this entire city in the value proposition of a high-quality public education for every single child here,” Scarlett added. “I want to be part of that.”

In a statement, St. Louis City Board of Education President Matt Davis said the board wanted a leader who would be focused on addressing the district’s challenges.

“Dr. Scarlett possesses the perfect mix of skill, knowledge and experience while also caring deeply for students, teachers and staff,” Davis said.

Scarlett will start the job on July 1. Until then, Nicole Williams will lead the district as interim superintendent. Williams was Adams’ chief of staff before taking over the temporary position and was also a finalist for the permanent job.

Kate Grumke covers the environment, climate and agriculture for St. Louis Public Radio and Harvest Public Media.