Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno is the winner of a 2016 Women in School Leadership Award from the American Association of School Administrators.
The award was announced Friday during the association’s national conference in Phoenix.
Santorno was named a finalist in late January, but said she was surprised on Friday when she was named the winner.
“This is a commendation for the whole community,” Santorno told The News Tribune. “The recognition is about the work we have undertaken, and we still have a ways to go. We still have kids that aren’t making it, who aren’t achieving at a high level.”
She said the work to meet the needs of those students will continue.
She also put to rest speculation that winning a national award might lead her to leave Tacoma for another opportunity elsewhere.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said.
The association recognized Santorno for leadership in several areas, including strength in both personal and organizational communication, professionalism and community involvement.
“Her leadership in connecting schools and students with resources in the community is an exemplary model for others to emulate,” Bill Keim, executive director of the Washington Association of School Administrators, said in a news release.
I’m not going anywhere
Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent Carla Santorno, answering speculation about whether her award would lead to job offers elsewhere
Santorno joined Tacoma schools in 2009 as deputy superintendent under then-Superintendent Art Jarvis. In 2012, she was named interim superintendent following the announcement of Jarvis’ retirement and in September 2012, she became the district’s superintendent.
Her tenure as superintendent followed a period of turmoil in the school district that included budget cuts, school closures and a teachers’ strike.
Santorno focused on healing wounds, and reaching out to the Tacoma community. There are now more than 50 community organizations that partner with the school district to help kids.
The district’s partnership with the Tacoma Housing Authority is one example. It provides housing vouchers for low-income families of students at McCarver Elementary School, and offers additional supports for parents. The goal is to provide stability for students.
Partnerships with local colleges and universities have produced scholarship funding for low-income students, and the district’s partnership with the University of Washington Tacoma created the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative, which focuses on social and emotional learning.
Co-sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Women in School Leadership Award recognizes front-line female administrators who are making a difference in the lives of students. The awards are granted in two categories: one for superintendents and their assistants, and another for administrators and principals. Santorno was honored in the superintendent category.
She received a $1,000 check and a one-year membership to AASA along with the award.