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Most Effective Administrator Award

Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent receives state most effective administrator award

Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith received the 2021 PEMCO Robert J. Handy Most Effective Administrator Award for large school districts during the June 29 Washington Association of School Administrators Summer Conference.

Established in 2002, this award recognizes outstanding Washington public school administrators. One highly effective superintendent, central office administrator, or building administrator is selected from a small district (up to 500 students), medium-sized district (501–2,000 students), and large district (over 2,000 students). A peer committee selects the recipients from nominations that describe how each nominee is taking part in realizing the nine characteristics of high performing schools/districts as defined by research from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“The recognition continues to pile up for the great work Superintendent Smith is doing in leading Walla Walla Public Schools,” said School Board President Derek Sarley. “On behalf of the entire school board, we are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to continue our shared work in developing schools that produce Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates.“ Sarley Congratulation Video

Superintendent Smith worked with the board to develop a clear and shared vision for Walla Walla Public Schools by facilitating a Strategic Plan initiative in 2017. He has established high standards and expectations for all students as evident by the district’s on-time graduation rate reaching an all-time high at 91.7%, up 16.6%. The district has also closed the gap between student ethnic populations as the Hispanic graduate rate nears 88%, up 18% since 2016-17. Dr. Smith believes in shared organizational leadership and has developed school-based instructional leadership teams at all schools. Under his leadership, the district initiated a 1:1 Technology program by providing a Chromebook for all students. He has ensured the alignment between curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Dr. Smith's commitment to building and reinforcing a supportive environment for all students and staff is reflected in the district’s "We All Belong Here" campaign which embraces diversity and inclusion. Dr. Smith has forged community partnerships and bolstered public trust as witnessed by the passing of the district’s largest bond ever and the success of the 2020 levy; both passed at more than 70%.

"I am humbled by this recognition and honored to join a slate of incredible leaders who have received this award in prior years," notes Superintendent Smith. "As with any successful organization, this acknowledgment is a result of collective efficacy, reflecting the hard work from our school board, faculty and students."

A $10,500 award is equally divided among the three winners. The award may be used for personal or professional growth and/or to support and disseminate information about a successful school or district program. Smith has already indicated he will be donating his share to support student-led initiatives and programs that the Superintendent's Student Advisory Committee prioritizes over the coming school year.

PHOTO: School Board President Derek Sarley (R) presents the 2021 PEMCO Robert J. Handy Most Effective Administrator Award plaque to Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith (L). 

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