Inside AWSP

Principal of the Year


2021 Washington State Principals of the Year


Mandi Rehn headshot

Mandi Rehn
Opportunity Elementary
Central Valley School District 

Mandi Rehn, principal at Opportunity Elementary in the Central Valley School District, (Spokane) was named this year’s Washington State Elementary Principal of the Year by a team representing the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP). 

In Ms. Rehn’s nomination submission, she was called out as an exceptional leader of students and adults. Her work to make sure staff, students, and families feel included in a positive way was widely praised. In fact, she goes even further to ensure community partners attend each family night and has fostered relationships with all sorts of community organizations. 


David Cooke headshot

David Cooke
Jemtegaard Middle School
Washougal School District

Jemtegaard Middle School Principal David Cooke (Washougal School District) was named this year’s Washington State Secondary Principal of the Year by a team representing the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP). 

Cooke is in his 15th year as principal with the last seven coming at Jemtegaard. In his time there, he’s led dramatic reductions in discipline incidents and big increases in student achievement. Through it all, Cooke focuses on creating a school culture valuing students and keeping them at the heart of the work. This approach has led to genuine student leadership and staff support for innovative teaching methods. 

2021 Assistant Principal of the Year

2021 POY nomination

2022 POY Nominations and Process

Every year, AWSP selects a Washington State Principal of the Year. In the past, we've selected three state winners; one from elementary, one from middle level, and one from high school. This year, we've got one for secondary and one for elementary.

Beginning in 2021, we're revamping our process. We will select one winner per ESD, regardless of level, and select one state winner from the nine ESD/Regional winners. This aligns with the classified, teacher, and superintendent of the year award programs. 


  1. AWSP accepts nominations from any source. It could be a teacher, another principal in the district, a parent, student, or community member. (Note: nominators will need to create an OpenWater account. This lets the nominator start the process, save their work, and come back to it.)

  2. The nominated principal gets an email letting them know someone thinks they're great and they've been nominated to be the Washington State Principal of the Year. 

  3. The nominated principal completes an application in OpenWater. This mirrors the national application closely, so if they advance to national recognition, they won't have to reinvent the wheel when the time comes to fill out that nomination.

  4. A regional judging panel selects one principal from each ESD to be our Regional/ESD Principal of the Year.

  5. Another judging panel narrows the nine down to one Washington State Principal of the Year. That person will represent Washington for their respective national association. See the national recognition section below.


  • Nominations (anyone can nominate) must be submitted by July 31, 2021.
  • Nominated principals must complete the application for the Washington State Principal of the Year by August 31, 2021.
  • Regional/ESD winners will be selected by October 1, 2021.
  • The Washington State Principal of the Year will be announced by October 25, 2021.
  • The application for the NASSP National Principal of the Year are due by May 1, 2022.
  • The application for the NAESP National Distinguished Principal are due by May 8, 2022.

National Recognition

If the state winner is a member of NASSP, we will look at the other eight ESD/Regional Principal of the Year winners and select the highest scored application from a NAESP member. That person will represent our state at the national level and vice versa; if the state winner is a NAESP winner, we'll select the best application from a NASSP member to represent Washington for their national component.

National Association of Elementary School Principals


  • One Regional/ESD winner will represent Washington for NAESP's National Distinguished Principal Program (NDP).
  • NAESP honors principals from around the country and does not select a national winner. 
  • Applications for the NDP program are due May 8, 2021.
  • Winners are recognized in Washington, D.C. sometime in October 2021.

National Association of Secondary School Principals

  • One Regional/ESD Principal of the Year will represent Washington for NASSP's National Principal of the Year (NPOY).
  • NASSP selects one national winner from the state representatives.
  • Applications for the NPOY program are due May 1, 2021.
  • State representatives are honored at the National Principals Institute in Washington, D.C., usually in late September/early October. 
  • The National Principal of the Year is selected in October for National Principals Month. 

Looking for info for the national recognition for assistant principals? 

AP Recognition

For More Information 

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

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