TACOMA, Wash. — Dr. Steve Rasmussen, superintendent of the 7,900-student Franklin Pierce School District, was selected as one of four finalists for the American Association of School Administrators’ National Superintendent of the Year award in December.

“AASA has been a proud sponsor of this program because it shines a spotlight on creative school leadership,” said AASA Executive Director Paul Houston. “These 2002 finalists have demonstrated an ability to rise above the challenges and work toward improved student achievement. They represent the best of school leadership nationwide.”

Rasmussen’s school administration career spans over two decades. He has been superintendent in Franklin Pierce since 1992. Prior to 1992, he was superintendent of Deer Park School District. He also was an assistant to the superintendent of the Eastmont School District and director of vocational education for the Wenatchee School District. Rasmussen received a Doctor of Education degree from Washington State University in 1988. He also received a master’s degree in 1979 and bachelor’s degree in 1973 from WSU.

“It is a great honor to have been chosen the State Superintendent of the Year and one of four finalists for the national title,” Rasmussen said. “This is an award shared by everyone – students, staff, parents and community members. It is about our staff and community commitment to education and is an acknowledgement of all our efforts.”

Franklin Pierce serves a growing community with increasing ethnic and linguistic diversity. Two-thirds of the student body turns over every five years. Over 50 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. When Rasmussen came to the district in 1992, he embarked on an ambitious plan to build and strengthen the school/community connection. This endeavor resulted in four district goals: to meet the learning needs of all students; to prepare students for success beyond high school; to provide safe and caring schools that promote learning; and to increase family and community involvement in the schools.

“Steve is an excellent candidate for this honor,” said Mark Baumgarten, Franklin Pierce School Board president. “Steve has led the community to a greater understanding of our schools and what is needed for learning. He has done this by substantially increasing communications and involvement and engaging all of us in the thoughtful development of quality schools.”

A $10,000 scholarship will be awarded in the name of the National Superintendent of the Year to a student from the high school from which the honoree graduated, or the school now serving that area. In addition, the honoree will receive a gold medallion, a $2,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a jacket emblazoned with the National Superintendent of the Year emblem and a National Superintendent of the Year plaque. The three national finalists will receive a silver medallion, a $1,000 U.S. savings bond and a plaque with the National Superintendent of the Year emblem.

AASA, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 14,000 educational leaders across America and in many other countries. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children.