Inside AWSP



Principals, assistant principals and those who support their efforts are making a difference in the quality of education offered in Washington state. There are several prestigious awards that celebrate individuals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement and community involvement as well as individuals who advocate for education and the principalship.

Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year

Each year, AWSP recognizes an outstanding elementary and secondary principal as our Washington State Elementary Principal of the Year and Washington State Secondary Principal of the Year. We also recognize a Washington State Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year and a Washington State Secondary Principal of the Year. The awards provide significant recognition on the state and national level.

Principals and assistant principals are nominated each year. Nominations can come from anyone, including district staff, school staff, students, parents, or community members. Nominees then fill out an application to be scored by a review panel. In addition to the state award, the four winners chosen represent our state at the national level. Those awards are:

  • National Association of Secondary School Principals | Principal of the Year
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals | Assistant Principal of the Year
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals | National Distinguished Principal
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals | National Outstanding Assistant Principal

NASSP will select one principal and one Assistant Principal to be their respective national winner. In September 2012, Trevor Greene became our state's first National Principal of the Year. NAESP does not select a national winner.

2023 Winners

2023 POY_and_APOY_graphic

Award Pages

Torch of Leadership Award

The Torch of Leadership Award honors individuals serving in the Washington state government who have demonstrated outstanding support of principals and the principalship. The award was established in 2009.

Nominations are submitted by members of the AWSP Advocacy Advisory Council, and the final selection is made by committee and AWSP staff members. Recipients are named in the spring after the legislative session and honored in October at the AWSP’s fall meeting of the Legislation Committee.

2022 Winner: Representative Alicia Rule (D–Blaine)

Each year, AWSP’s Advocacy Advisory Council has the opportunity to select a state-level public servant who has demonstrated support of principals and the principalship in the education of all students. For 2021, the Council selected Representative Alicia Rule as AWSP’s 2022 Torch of Leadership Award winner. Rep. Rule is a Democrat representing the 42nd legislative district in Blaine.

Representative Rule was elected to the Legislature in 2020 with a clear mission to represent children and young adults. She is Vice Chair of the Children, Youth and Families Committee and also serves on the Community and Economic Development and Capital Budget Committees. In her first two years as a state legislator, she has sponsored significant pieces of legislation that support students in the K-12 system.

Representative Alicia Rule headshot

Representative Alicia Rule

President's Award

The AWSP President’s Award is given to a person outside the association who has advocated on behalf of principals and the principalship in Washington state. Recipients are chosen by the AWSP Board in consultation with the AWSP executive director. The award is presented at the association's annual conference in June.

2022 AWSP President's Award | Chase Buffington, Cispus Learning Center Director

This year, we are excited to present Cispus Learning Director Chase Buffington with the 2022 AWSP President's Award. Chase worked diligently during the height of the pandemic to save our Cispus Learning Center when the doors had to close due to COVID. Cispus hosts incredible outdoor learning and leadership programs for students and adults across the state. COVID forced Cispus to close its doors, and without any programs, there was no revenue coming in. 

Chase took that challenge head-on and worked tirelessly to secure grants and advocate for rescue funds, while at the same time making much-needed infrastructure improvements. Those improvements ensured that when Cispus opened the doors back up for kids, the facility would last another 50 or more years. His positive attitude, sheer determination, and belief in what is possible for Cispus is why he is this year’s AWSP President’s Award Winner. 

Chase Buffington

Chase Buffington, Director, Cispus Learning Center

Annalee Braley Membership Award

Created in 2022, the Annalee Braley Membership Award is given to a current or former member who shares the same unwavering and long-term dedication to AWSP, the same commitment to making our organization the strongest in the country, the same passion for supporting our members, the same dedication to advocating for principals, and the same willingness to support AWSP any time and any where.

Annalee started working for AWSP in 1989 at 19 years old. She worked for AWSP for 32 years before passing away suddenly in 2021. This award commemorates her contributions to AWSP and the impact she made to countless members across the state.

Annalee Braley (1969-2021)

2022: Inaugural Winner

photo of Jim Eisenhardt at a podium accepting an award

Jim Eisenhardt

2022 AWSP Annalee Braley Membership Award | Jim Eisenhardt, Retired

Jim Eisenhardt is the first ever Annalee Braley AWSP Membership Award. Jim is incredible human being who has worked tirelessly over decades to support AWSP and our members, just like Annalee. There isn’t a better person to be recognized for this first-ever award than long-time AWSP member, friend, and advocate for principals, Jim Eisenhardt. 

United States Senate Youth Program 

Each year, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation sponsors two high school juniors or seniors from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to attend the United States Senate Youth Program - an all-expense paid, weeklong tour of Washington, DC and to receive a $10,000 scholarship.

In Washington state, the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP) administers the program. Through the AWSL, AWSP sponsors the seven week-long High School Summer Leadership Camps for student body officers, class officers and other student leaders. A selection process is identified and implemented at each camp session, with two students being selected as finalists for the Senate Youth Program scholarships from each camp.

2022-23 Winners

Claire Michal Headshot

Claire Michal 
Marysville Getchell High School
Marysville School District

headshot of Rishi Hazar

Rishi Hazra 
Skyline High School
Issaquah School District

For More Information About the Process, Scholarship, and Winners

The Washington State Principals' Scholars Program

This is a recognition award is given to the top 5% of the senior class of each high school. Principals can download the Award for Academic Excellence certificate below. 

For More Information 

David Morrill | Communications & Technology Director | (800) 562-6100

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