Washoe County schools Superintendent Heath Morrison on Thursday was named 2012 Superintendent of the Year by a national organization of education administrators, a first for a Nevada educator and likely a boost to the state?s sagging image on commitment to education.
Morrison received the award in the opening ceremony at the American Association of School Administrators? National Conference on Education in Houston.
?I haven?t even really had a chance to think about it,? Morrison said moments after receiving the award and making remarks to the conference attendees. ?I am humbled, and I accepted the award proudly on behalf of all our teachers, principals and support staff that work to make things better.?
Morrison, superintendent for Washoe County School District since 2009, has overseen the district?s graduation rate improve from 56 percent to 70 percent with increases in every student subgroup between 2009 and 2011. The district also has achieved test score gains that began to narrow the achievement gap in many subject areas.
He also is credited with fostering more community engagement by working with parents and involving community volunteers and business partnerships.
?Morrison?s focus on involving the entire community and the business community has been a laser focus,? said Randy Brown, chairman of the Chamber.
Brown called the award ?a monumental announcement.?
?Especially, when you overlay the horrible economic conditions in which he did it,? Brown said. ?The folks in economic development should be delighted about this announcement.?
Morrison being named the top superintendent in the nation bodes well when trying to recruit businesses to the Reno-Sparks area, Brown said.
?When you talk to economic development people, they will tell you one of the top two or three questions they will get when business are considering a region is, ?Tell me about the education system,?? he said.
The announcement will be a talking point in discussions about the improvement of education in the region, said Mike Kazmierski, president/CEO of EDAWN, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.