SUNNYSIDE, Wash. - The superintendent of the Sunnyside School District has received a statewide award for his outstanding work as a public school administrator.
The Washington Association of School Administrators, PEMCO Insurance, and School Employees Credit Union of Washington have selected Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Richard D. Cole for the 2013 Robert J. Handy Effective Administrator Award.
Members of the award selection committee say back in 2007, Dr. Cole led the Sunnyside School District Board and staff in the development of a clear, focused, and shared vision for every student in the district. They say even with the high-poverty community and the many external challenges facing the district's youth, Dr. Cole's strong belief that all children are capable of academic success helped shape that vision.
Under Cole's leadership, the graduation rate increased from 41% in 2007 to 79.5% in 2012.
A peer committee selects the winners from nominations that describe how each nominee is taking part in realizing the nine characteristics of high-performing schools/districts as defined by research from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Three school administrators are selected for the award each year in categories of: less than 500 students, 501-2,000 students, and 2,000+ students. Dr. Cole was the recipient for school districts with more than 2,000 students.
Robert J. Handy, the award namesake, founded the PEMCO Life Insurance Company. Handy was a Seattle school teacher during the Great Depression whose vision of providing low-cost loans to school teachers grew into what is now the School Employees Credit Union of Washington.