Washoe Country School District

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Nevada Community Celebrates Heath Morrison as National Superintendent of the Year

February 17, 2012

For Immediate Release 
Victoria Campbell 
Calli Fisher  
Nevada Community Celebrates Heath Morrison as National Superintendent of the Year
Reno, NV (Feb. 17, 2012) - As the news spread that Washoe County School District's Heath Morrison was named the 2012 National Superintendent of the Year, the Northern Nevada community praised the work of the District's leader and the accomplishments of the school district.
On Thursday, the American Association of School Administrators announced Morrison as the recipient of the national honor at the National Conference on Education. The National Superintendent of the Year program, co-sponsored by AASA, the ING Foundation and ARAMARK Education, highlights the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents.
"When the Board of Trustees brought Heath to Washoe County, we were facing low student achievement that was no longer acceptable. Heath was the catalyst we needed to turn Washoe County School District into a high-achieving school district that focused on the needs of every child. As a Board, we are exceptionally proud of him and all of the educators in WCSD for their amazing efforts to help our children reach their full potential," Board of Trustees President Ken Grein said.
When Morrison joined WCSD, the Board of Trustees charged him with initiating educational reform that would greatly improve student achievement. He led the community process in the development of the District's five-year strategic plan, Envision WCSD 2015 - Investing In Our Future, which lays out a pathway to ensure every child receives a high-quality education and graduates from high school ready for college and highly-skilled careers.
Student achievement has continued to make significant improvements under Morrison's leadership. Between 2009 and 2011, the District's graduation rate jumped 14 points from 56 percent to 70 percent with increases in every student subgroup. Washoe County School District also has witnessed academic gains in test scores and has successfully narrowed the achievement gap in many subject areas. At a time of declining resources, the District continues to push for greater excellence through innovative programs like Door to Door for Student Achievement, its Re-Engagement Centers, High School Signature Academies, and an aggressive anti-bullying campaign called A New Era of Safe Schools.
"No one is more deserving of this honor. Although Dr. Morrison refers to himself as a teacher on special assignment, he has put Washoe County on the map locally and nationally. He has set high standards and is realistic about the areas that need improvement while celebrating achievements. His exemplary leadership has truly transformed our schools, district and community culture surrounding education. He has mastered the role of superintendent while keeping a pulse on what is going on inside the schools. In this exciting and challenging time in education, he maintains a laser-like focus on student achievement. As a result, we are working with a sense of urgency, passion, and commitment, ensuring all of our children graduate ready for highly-skilled careers or a college of their choice," Billinghurst Middle School Principal Ken Cervantes said.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and many state lawmakers also congratulated Morrison.
"A strategic thinker and a leader in the reform movement, Dr. Morrison has built strong relationships in his community and has focused his time and energy on performance planning for the future success of our schools, to the benefit of the Washoe County School District and our state as a whole," Governor Sandoval said. "I know Heath is widely respected by his peers across the state and I congratulate him on this national honor."
Nevada State Senator Ben Kieckhefer said, "This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Morrison. He has a vision for what education can be in Washoe County, and the drive to see it through. We are fortunate to have a leader like Dr. Morrison guiding our school district, and I look forward to seeing his continued success on behalf of our children."
State Assemblywoman Debbie Smith said Morrison has been a welcome addition to the state. "During tough economic times, he problem solved with legislators, handling budget cuts with expertise while working to keep the cuts from the classroom, and expanded efforts to engage parents in the education of their children. I couldn't be more pleased to have such a good friend to public education be honored with a national award," she said.
Local business and community leaders also applauded the positive changes happening in WCSD. Through efforts like the Parent University, the Community Compact and the Washoe Education Foundation, Morrison has led the district on a passionate campaign to increase parent and community engagement in education.
"On a personal note for Heath, this is an outstanding achievement in his career, especially during his first superintendency," community and business leader Perry Di Loreto, who also serves as the Chairman of the Washoe Education Foundation, said. "Between the increased graduation rates and improved student achievement, Heath's leadership, energy and ability to get things done has made a significant impact in just the 2.5 years he was been with WCSD. This award is also a wonderful reflection on the entire district, the school board and our community as it demonstrates the commitment to providing a world-class education system for all children."
The Chamber's Executive Director Len Stevens, who has been an ardent supporter of the District's strategic plan, said, "This award couldn't be more well-deserved by anyone. I know Heath well enough to know that he doesn't do his job for these awards. His tireless efforts for education and our community have been absolutely amazing. We are so proud to have him in our community and doing what he does for our children. I know I speak for many people in our community when I say that we look forward to continuing our support of all of his efforts."
Parent and Nevada PTA vice president of legislative services Tami Berg said, "The words 'Congratulations Heath' don't express how proud as a parent and an advocate with Nevada PTA I am for Dr. Morrison being named 2012 National Superintendent of the Year. He is truly deserving of this honor. Now the entire nation knows what we as parents and a community have known for a couple of years-he is the best of the best!"
About Washoe County School District: The Washoe County School District includes the Reno/Sparks metropolitan area, Incline Village, Gerlach, Empire and Wadsworth, Nevada. The District provides each of its 63,000 students with a superior education in a safe and challenging environment and is committed to graduate every child career and college ready. For more information visit: www.washoecountyschools.org. Follow us on Twitter at WCSDTweet.
Washoe County School District
425 East Ninth Street
Reno, NV 89512

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