Inside AWSP

Principal of the Year



Nominations and applications for the 2019-20 Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year are open.

Starting in the 2019-20 school year, AWSP will no longer select state-level winners at each grade level. Instead, we'll name one statewide Principal of the Year and one statewide Assistant Principal of the Year. We'll select each state winner from nine regional winners – nine principals, nine assistant principals – one from each ESD. 

Four regional/ESD winners will represent Washington as our national representative. Those four representative positions are are:

  • Washington's nominee for the National Principal of the Year from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
  • Washington's nominee for the National Assistant Principal of the Year from the National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • Washington's representative for the National Association of Elementary School Principals for their National Distinguished Principal Program (NAESP)
  • Washington's representative for the National Association of Elementary School Principals for their National Outstanding Assistant Principal Program
The Washington State Principal of the Year and Washington State Assistant Principal of the Year will become the representative for their national component (NASSP or NAESP). The two remaining positions will be filled from the highest scoring regional/ESD winners who did not win either the statewide Principal of the Year or Assistant Principal of the Year. 

Washington State Principals of the Year


Alfonso Lopez

Alfonso Lopez
Lewis and Clark Elementary
Wenatchee Public Schools

Mr. Alfonso Lopez was born and raised in Mexico and immigrated to the United States to instill the value of education to his family. Over the past decade, Mr. Lopez's goal has been to make a difference in his students’ lives regardless of their cultural background, a complete opposite mindset than that of how he was raised. Mr. Lopez sees diversity issues as opportunities to grow. Instead of avoiding cultural diversity issues, he is proactive and seeks school improvement. He takes the opportunity to discuss difficult situations, listen to multiple perspectives, and develop next action steps, in order for his dual-language school to be more successful. He is an agent of continuous improvement to promote each student’s academic success and well-being. He manages uncertainty, risk, competing initiatives, and politics of change with courage and perseverance, providing support and encouragement and openly communicating the need for, process for, and outcomes of improvement efforts.

Middle Level

Guy Kovacs

Guy Kovacs
Kalles Junior High
Puyallup School District

Mr. Guy Kovacs was named this year’s Washington State Middle Level Principal of the Year, and was also chosen to move forward as Washington state’s nominee for the National Association of Secondary School Principals  (NASSP) competition for National Principal of the Year. Having been a school administrator for 19 years (with six of those being at Kalles), Mr. Kovacs has a wealth of leadership knowledge and experience. In every building he has served, he has worked to create a culture that is centered on students. Mr. Kovacs believes that one of the best ways to help students is to help teachers. He has focused on providing effective professional development in areas like strong first-instruction, data-based decision-making, effective RTI efforts, and more. Mr. Kovacs believes schools should be fun and that students should have tons of options to be involved.

High School

Jason Smith Headshot

Jason Smith
Gov. John R. Rogers High School
Puyallup School District

Mr Jason Smith was selected as this year's Washington State High School Principal of the Year. He was also nationally recognized on May 13 as Jostens Renaissance Educator of the Year for his leadership. Only two educators from more than 6,000 schools across the country were selected for the award.

As principal of John R. Rogers for five years, Mr. Smith and his staff have adopted an "AP For All" philosophy, believing that all students should experience the rigor of an Advanced Placement class. This has increased the number of students taking AP exams by more than 30%. Mr. Smith also fully believes that one of the most important things he can do as a principal is to hire great teachers. Mr. Smith writes, "I have become very aggressive in hiring. I've come to embrace the philosophy that it is 'people not programs' that make a difference."

Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year

Shelley Ramirez

Shelley Ramirez
Thompson Elementary
Bethel School District

Ms. Shelley Ramirez is an outstanding leader, motivator and coalition builder. In her four years as assistant principal at Thompson Elementary School (Bethel SD), she has been instrumental in supporting staff, parents and students with placing a focus on learning. She brings people together around a shared goal and allows them to solve problems as a group that no one of them could solve individually. Ms. Ramirez thrives in building relationships with people, knowing that a good relationship is the catalyst to creating meaningful work and outcomes. She genuinely cares about people's well-being. She is visible in the community by interacting with students and families at events, sports, and community activities.

Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year

Lacey Griffiths Headshot

Lacey Griffiths
R.A. Long High School
Longview School District

RA Long High School Assistant Principal Lacey Griffiths (Longview SD) was named this year’s Washington State Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year by a panel of principals representing the Washington Association of Secondary School Administrators (WASSP), a component of the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP). Ms. Griffiths has been assistant principal at RA Long for the past seven years. She has worked hard during this time to develop strong relationships with her teachers, and believes these relationships allows her to push teachers gently out of their comfort zone and question their "whys." She aims to be on the forefront of anything implemented or adopted in order to be able to assist teachers, and seeks professional development around students' needs. 

Past Winners

View a list of past Principal/Assistant Principal of the Year winners.

For More Information 

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