Inside AWSP

Assistant Principal of the Year Award

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2023 Washington State Assistant Principal of the Year

AWSP is a K-12 organization, and we recognize two winners, one elementary assistant principal and one secondary assistant principal, as our Washington State Assistant Principals of the Year. The elementary winner will represent Washington at the national level as our National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) National Outstanding Assistant Principal. The secondary winner will represent our state for National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) National Assistant Principal of the Year award.



2023 Winners

Washington State Elementary
Assistant Principal of the Year

Deborah Henderson headshot in front of stairs

Deborah Henderson
Frank Wagner Elementary
Monroe School District

Deborah Henderson, assistant principal at Frank Wagner Elementary School in the Monroe School District, was named the 2023 Washington State Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year. In addition, she will represent Washington as our state’s winner of the National Association of Elementary School Principals National (NAESP) Outstanding Assistant Principal award. The NAESP recognizes one winner from each state every year.

In her fourth year as assistant principal at Frank Wagner Elementary, Henderson knows that empowering her staff means empowering her students. With a strong vision for both improving instruction and boosting school culture, she came into her role with a goal to increase professional development for staff in core subject areas. This resulted in happier staff and increased student test results.

Henderson worked with the school’s principal, an instructional coach from the district, and trainers from Columbia University to provide a research-based curriculum and job-embedded professional development. This resulted in teachers knowing what to teach and how to teach it.

Washington State Secondary
Assistant Principal of the Year

Jessica Buchan headshot

Jessica Buchan
Renton High School
Renton School District

Jessica Buchan, assistant principal at Renton High School in the Renton School District, was named this year’s Washington State Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year. Buchan will also be recognized at the national level by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), where she will compete with winners from other states for the NASSP’s National Assistant Principal of the Year award, announced in early April.

Buchan has been an assistant principal for six years, serving in that role for the past two years at Renton High School. She believes all teachers have the capability to be master teachers, which grounds her work in teacher observation, feedback cycles, and evaluation. With her International Baccalaureate and AVID background, she knows all students need access to rigorous instruction and the proper support to reach high expectations.

Taking pride in her instructional leadership, Buchan coaches teachers on a variety of pedological practices. This allows teachers to increase challenges for students and, at the same time, provide support and access for students furthest from educational justice. Buchan values all voices and makes an effort to seek out traditionally underrepresented groups when making decisions, from hourly staff not often present in meetings to parents working multiple jobs who might not be able to attend events or have a presence at the school.



National Recognition

For national recognition, our Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year will represent us for the NAESP National Outstanding Assistant Principal award. Our Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year will represent us for the National Association of Secondary School Principals Assistant Principal of the Year award. From all the state winners, NASSP will name one National Assistant Principal of the Year during National Assistant Principals Week (April 3-7, 2023).

National Association of Elementary School Principals

  • One amazing assistant principal will represent Washington for NAESP's National Outstanding Assistant Principal Program (NOAP).
  • NAESP honors assistant principals from around the country and does not select a national winner. 
  • Applications for the NOAP program are due March 25, 2023.
  • Winners are recognized at the NAESP national conference, which usually happens during the first two weeks of July. Registration is comped. 

National Association of Secondary School Principals

  • Each year, one amazing assistant principal will represent Washington for NASSP's National Assistant Principal of the Year program (NAPOY).
  • NASSP NAPOY applications were due December 1, 2022. 
  • From the state representatives, NASSP selects three finalists and one national winner. 
  • The winner will be selected during National AP Week, which is April 3-7 2023.
  • The winner will be recognized at the NASSP national conference, which usually happens during the first two weeks of July.


2024 APOY Nominations

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We know leadership matters. Let's recognize some of the amazing leadership around the state. Help us find the next Washington State Assistant Principal of the Year, as well as our state winners for the National Association of Elementary School Principals and National Association of Secondary School Principals award programs. 




Past Winners

View past Assistant Principal of the Year winners. 

Principal of the Year

Looking for info about recognition and timelines for our Principal of the Year?

POY Recognition



Julie Woods

For More Information 

Julie Woods | Member Services Specialist | (800) 562-6100


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