Dick Cvitanich Receives 2017 Crystal Apple Award

Congratulations to Dick Cvitanich for earning the 2017 Crystal Apple Award from WSPRA. Dick serves as the Superintendent for the Olympia School District. Here is his nomination letter, submitted by Susan Gifford, Director of Communications and Community Relations.


Dick Cvitanich Olympia School District Superintendent Dick Cvitanich has spent the past 42 years supporting K-12 public education, including serving as a mentor to other school superintendents, a cheerleader for school public relations, and an advocate for statewide legislation in support of students and staff.

His teaching and administrative career, which comes to a close with his retirement this June, empowered school district colleagues and communities across the state ranging from Sequim, Silverdale, and Shaw Island, to Vashon, Highline, Puyallup and Olympia.

The veteran educator also left a lasting impression in Sandpoint, Idaho, where he served six years as superintendent for a district of nearly 4,000 students. During that time, Cvitanich articulated an instructional and facility vision for the Lake Pend Oreille School District and was nominated as Idaho State Superintendent of the Year.

Cvitanich began his teaching career in 1975 as the K-8 Head Teacher in the Shaw Island School District in Washington. In 1977, he became a sixth-grade teacher at Silverdale Elementary School, followed in 1980 by a two-year role as a middle school English teacher in Sequim.

He quickly moved into administration two years later when he was hired as a middle school principal in the Vashon Island School District. Five years later, he took on the high school principalship in Vashon.

In 1991, Cvitanich joined the Highline School District, first as an elementary principal and three years later as an area administrator. In 2004, he moved to Puyallup as that district’s assistant superintendent for teaching and student learning. After two successful years, he went east to Sandpoint, Idaho as the Lake Pend Oreille School District superintendent.

Cvitanich’s professional career brought him back to the Evergreen state in 2012 as superintendent of the nearly 10,000-student Olympia School District. Olympia knew they had someone special at the helm when he started his new post with a tour of the schools. Not any tour, mind you. The new leader hopped on his bicycle and rode to schools and through neighborhoods to meet community members, staff and students.

Since that opening bike tour five years ago, he has experienced successful levy and bond proposals, including the 2016 levy and bond election that had record high voter approval rates, among the highest in the state.

He also engaged school parent group (PTA/PTO) leaders through quarterly luncheon meetings; invited religious leaders to meet, share their concerns and address sensitive subjects; hosted a luncheon with retired teachers to educate them about school district initiatives and share ways they could remain connected and involved; and, through an inclusive group process involving parents, staff, students and the community, developed a comprehensive Strategic Plan supporting districtwide instructional improvement.

He rarely misses a school event, reads the WSSDA eClippings daily to stay abreast of statewide issues and opportunities for he or his staff to advocate for students and staff, and participates with numerous community groups, including serving as a longtime Rotary member and a cast member in the annual Olympia School District Education Foundation theatre production.

Cvitanich has demonstrated success throughout his career in school administration, curriculum development and implementation, facility management, personnel selection, fiscal management and instructional improvement.

In his final year as superintendent, Cvitanich has continued to implement and respond to critical issues in K-12 education. This includes the formation and participation with a district equity visioning team, the initiation of an early learning study including input from city officials, the continued support of transgender students and their rights, and a heartfelt message to parents, staff and the Olympia community addressing immigration rights and the belief that our district’s role is to create “a safe and positive work environment for all students. All means all.”

His kind demeanor, yet firm leadership style, has won the hearts of those who have worked closely with him, as well as those who have met him briefly —parents, business leaders, and others — at a school bond or levy forum, or a strategic plan focus group.

We thank Dick Cvitanich for his more than four decades of service to K-12 public education and appreciate your consideration of him as this year’s WSPRA Crystal Apple Award.