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Scott Whitbeck

Scott Whitbeck (WA '96)

Senior Director of Schools

Portland Public Schools
Portland, OR

At the time of the Award, Scott Whitbeck was:

McAlder Elementary School
Puyallup, WA

Biographical Information

At the time of his award, Scott was a seven-year veteran principal in the Tacoma area of Washington State. Scott took over what was widely recognized as the lowest-performing school in the area; in five years, it received the U.S. Department of Education's Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award. Another school he led was named the best elementary school in Washington by Redbook magazine. The next year, Whitbeck was selected as one of two elementary principals to receive the state's Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Education Award. After five more years in school and district administration in Tacoma, Scott accepted an appointment as Elementary Director in Seattle Public Schools. His work began as oversight of about 20 PK-5 schools, then segued into leading turnaround efforts for the district's most struggling schools as Executive Director of School Improvement. His PK-12 schools included those participating in the federal School Improvement Grant program. After just the first year of SIG and with herculean efforts by the principals and teachers, both of Scott's elementary schools met Adequate Yearly Progress for all subgroups in all measured areas; they were two of only three such schools in Washington to have done so. His SIG high school increased enrollment by about 30% over a 3-year period, met AYP in several areas, and for the first time in recent memory the African-American student cohort outscored their peers of other ethnic subgroups for meeting or exceeding benchmarks on the state test. The National Education Association invited Scott and representatives from the SIG schools to present their success stories at their national Priority Schools conference, and the recorded interview appeared on their website homepage for months afterward. Scott currently serves as Instructional Director for Los Angeles Unified School District, overseeing schools in the West Region and providing ongoing professional development to principals on key initiatives including Common Core State Standards and instructional strategies for English Learners.

Personal Message

Receiving the Milken National Educator Award changed my life in many ways. Best of all, it brought pride to the students, staff and families of my school community and a renewed motivation for all of us to create the best possible learning environment every day, for each and every student. I continue to learn invaluable strategies and concepts from my Milken Educator colleagues, both in Washington and now here in California - they are my 'educator family'. We all realize how fortunate we are to have the Milken Family Foundation. shepherding us through the years within this ongoing professional learning community.

Additional Information


1983 Central Washington University, B.A.

University of Washington, M.Ed.

Educational Leadership, PK-12