Inside AWSP

High School Principal of the Year Award

The High School Principal of the Year award honors principals who have demonstrated excellence in a variety of areas, from personal achievement to collaborative leadership.

Nominations Are Open!

Nominations for the 2018 Secondary Principal of the Year are open! 

Nominations are due by April 1st!

2018 High School Principal of the Year

John Gummel

Gummel’s goal at Kelso High School is a 100-percent graduation rate. Since 2008, Gummel and his team increased the graduation rate from 75 percent to a 90 percent graduation rate. He transitioned the school to a trimester system rather than a semester system, offering more credits and opportunities to help students reach the graduation requirement. As one of the early adopters in changing the sacred cow of the high school schedule, Gummel’s influence stretches far beyond Kelso –– he regularly helps other districts figure out their own path to helping students with the 24-credit graduation requirement.  

“You create space for leadership for others.” Said Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich. “You have teachers who lead, you have an administrative team who leads and you have kids who lead. In our community our kids are known as leaders and as givers and that comes from a culture that’s been developed here,”

Gummel had become principal of Kelso High School in 2012, after being vice principal of the high school since 2007.



John Gummel
Kelso High School
Kelso School District

Selection Process

State and regional level

Each year, a panel of principals representing the Washington Association of Secondary School Principals selects a state winner from a pool of regional nominees. The regional level winners, known as Distinguished League Principals, go on to compete at the state level.

The winner of the Washington State High School Principal of the Year award is recognized annually at the AWSP/WASA Summer Conference, along with individuals who received the Washington State Elementary and Middle Level Principals of the Year awards.

National level

The state winner becomes eligible for the National Principal of the Year award. Three high school finalists are selected from the pool of state winners and compete for the award in Washington, D.C. The MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year, sponsored by MetLife and the National Association of Secondary School Principals receives a $5,000 grant for use in improving learning at their school.

The national honorees are distinguished guests at the Principals’ Institute in Washington, D.C., in October and at the NASSP Conference in the spring. Each national winner also receives a crystal award and banner to display at his or her school.

Past Winners

View a list of past High School Principal of the Year winners.