WASA Honorary Awards

WASA annually honors and recognizes outstanding educational administrators and individuals in other professions who have made extraordinary contributions to K–12 education.

Based on the award type for which a person is nominated, the Committee will make the following considerations:

  • Could the nominee be considered a positive change agent in public education locally or at the state level?
  • Has the nominee positively affected one or more areas: Program development, staff morale, community support, student interest, learning environment, or general support for public education?
  • Has the nominee provided creative leadership in inspiring or motivating others to achieve or contribute to public education?
  • Has the nominee personally provided a special service or achieved above and beyond what is expected in the usual public school program?
  • Have others recognized the nominee as a force for constructive change in public education at the community and/or state level.


  • Golden Gavel Award. The recipient shall be an individual, group, association, or firm that has made an outstanding contribution to public education in the state of Washington. The contribution to education should have statewide application and be of lasting value. This award does not require current or past WASA membership. One recipient per year (award not necessarily given every year).
  • D.A. Davidson Barbara Mertens Legacy Award. Presented to an individual or group who has had a significant impact on public education in Washington—a legacy that has a lasting influence. The person or group does not have to be a member of WASA. The award comes with a $1,000 gift from D.A. Davidson & Company that is awarded to a school, foundation, or similar in the awardee's name and at his/her direction. One recipient per year (award not necessarily given every year). 
  • Service to WASA Award. The recipient shall have made contributions at the state level toward goals of WASA and shall not be a voting member of WASA. One recipient per year (award not necessarily given every year).
  • WASA Leadership Award. This award is presented to a selected WASA member who demonstrates and exemplifies outstanding leadership abilities and has made significant contributions to the field of education on a statewide level. Each region may nominate one individual from that region. The nominee must be a current member of WASA for a minimum of two years. One recipient per year.


  • WASA Student Achievement Leadership Award (one award per region). Recognizes innovative programs for the improvement of student achievement. This award is presented to select WASA members who have provided leadership for the implementation of an innovation that has resulted in measurable growth in student achievement. Ideally, the innovation can serve as a tool for modeling new programs. Each region shall nominate one individual. The nominee must be a current and active WASA member for a minimum of TWO years.
  • Award of Merit (one award per region). The recipient of this award shall have demonstrated effective leadership at the region level and have made a significant contribution to WASA through his/her work in the field of education in Washington. The nominee must be a current and active member of WASA for a minimum of THREE years.
  • Community Leadership Award. (WASA provides one plaque; additional plaques will be paid by region). This award is presented to community members or groups in recognition of their outstanding contributions toward education. Recipients are non-WASA members. Specific criteria includes: benefit to students, leadership, motivation, success, cooperation/coordination with local district, recognition by others, and history of service. One or more recipients per region, per year.
  • WASA Student Leadership Award. (WASA provides one plaque; additional plaques will be paid by region or district.) This award recognizes student leaders who have created or played a significant leadership role in initiatives or programs that promote inclusivity, access, equity, or social justice in their school and community. Consideration for recognition is based on criteria that includes demonstrating leadership and serving as a role model participating in and organizing events that promote respect for diversity, equity, and individual differences; through collaboration and community engagement demonstrates the ability to inspire, motivate, and impact the growth and development of others; exemplifies integrity in all words and actions and maintains a positive image and presence with the school and greater community; evokes hope and demonstrates initiative by seeking ways to enrich the future; and displays a strong work ethic inside and outside the classroom. One or more recipients per region, per year.
  • Twenty-Year Award (self-nomination). Recognizes individual’s years of service to education. This award shall be granted to any school administrator who has served as an administrator for 20 years in public school districts. The recipient must have been a member of WASA for TEN years.
  • Retirement Award (self-nomination). Honors service to the profession. The recipient must be retiring from his/her administrative responsibilities and no longer eligible for active WASA membership. The recipient must be a current member of WASA. 

Award applications for both Region and State Awards will be available beginning February 22, 2023. The deadline for State Awards is May 3, 2023. Region Award deadlines vary per region. Questions may be directed to Shari Parsons.

Awards History

2022 WASA Honorary Awards

WASA Recognized Exemplary Educational Leaders at the a virtual event held on June 27, 2022.

Statewide Awards

Golden Gavel Award

Michael Dunn, Superintendent, NEWESD101

D.A. Davidson Barbara Mertens Legacy Award

Mick Hoffman, Executive Director, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA)

WASA Leadership Award

Shane Backlund, Superintendent, Selah

Service to WASA Award

Tim Garchow, Executive Director, Washington State School Directors' Association (WSSDA)

Retirement Award

Region 101                           Michael Dunn, NEWESD 101
Region 101                           Steve Gaub, Keller School District
Region 101                           John Glenewinkel, Curlew School District
Region 101                           Jim Kowalkowski, Davenport School District
Region 101                           Wayne Massie, Harrington School District
Region 101                           Bill Ressel, Sprague School District
Region 101                           Suzanne Savall, Orchard Prairie School District
Region 101                           Ben Small, Central Valley School District
Region 108                           Linda Quinn, Ferndale School District
Region 110                           Tammy Campbell, Federal Way School District
Region 110                           Anthony Smith, Riverview School District
Region 110                           Ron Thiele, Issaquah School District
Region 111                           Karen Anderson, Peninsula School District
Region 111                           Becky Owens, University Place School District
Region 111                           Janel Keating, White River School District
Region 111                           Carla Santorno, Tacoma School District
Region 112                           Milt Dennison, Mt Pleasant School District
Region 112                           Bob Garrett, Toutle Lake School District
Region 112                           Ralph Pruitt, Skamania School District
Region 112                           Karla Schlosser, Vancouver School District
Region 112                           Jill Smith, Battle Ground School District
Region 113                           Cal Brodie, Capital Region ESD 113
Region 113                           Kim Fry, Rochester School District
Region 113                           Michael Hart, Olympia School District
Region 113                           Alicia Henderson, Aberdeen School District
Region 113                           Kurt Hilyard, Grapeview School District
Region 113                           Pam Pratt, North River School District
Region 113                           Brock Williams, Tenino School District
Region 114                           Greg Lynch, Olympic ESD 114
Region 114                           Joan Zook, Sequim School District
Region 123                           Jack Anderson, Kennewick School District
Region 123                           Teri Kessie, ESD 123
Region 123                           Darcy Weisner, ESD 123
Region 171                           Garn Christensen, Eastmont School District
Region 171                           Barry DePaoli, Lake Chelan School District
Region 171                           Eric Driessen, Brewster School District
Region 171                           Miles Caples, Entiat School District
Region 171                           Mike Messenger, Mansfield School District

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