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Nelson, Michael

Michael Nelson Assistant Executive Director for Professional Learning, Washington Association of School Administrators

There is no more noble profession than that of an educator was what Michael Nelson’s mom said almost every day while he was growing up. For almost 40 years, Michael has been an educator. His mom would be pleased.  

 

Even though Michael still considers “teacher” as his primary title, he has served in roles of principal, district instructional leader, superintendent, and currently as assistant executive director developing programs and initiatives for superintendents and district leaders in the state of Washington.  


One foundational leadership value in which Michael leads is the development of a kind, compassionate, and empathetic culture rooted in belonging and equity. He describes his leadership work as building human connectedness, recognizing you must always model what you lead as you build teams of individuals supporting students in their learning. The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe awarded him with their official blanket for building a collaborative partnership between the Tribe and school district, the highest honor of the Tribe and the first non-Tribal member to receive this blanket.


Michael has received many state and national awards during his time as a principal and superintendent. As a principal, he was acknowledged by Pacific Lutheran University as its Outstanding Recent Alumni in 1997. At the same  time, the school he was leading as principal received the National Blue Ribbon Award from the United States Department of Education.   


As a superintendent, he was named Washington state’s 2019 Superintendent of the Year. During his tenure as superintendent, Michael was elected President of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) by his peers.  


While WASA President, he was one of two superintendents in the nation selected to participate in the Embark Program facilitated by the United States Navy. He spent time on the USS Ronald Reagan learning from all levels of the men and women serving on this aircraft carrier. He also has received the Washington State Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development Educating the Whole Child Award.