“I was awestruck,” Morrison said, adding that hearing his name called was a surreal experience. “I view it as a recognition of all the great work that is being done in Washoe County.”
Celebrating its 25th year, the National Superintendent of the Year program, co-sponsored by AASA, the ING Foundation and ARAMARK Education, highlights the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents.
In announcing the selection, Daniel Domenech, AASA executive director, had high praise for Morrison.
“Despite the fact that Nevada’s once-booming economy has been in steep decline,” Domenech said, “Heath has led his community in the development of a district-wide five-year strategic plan to ensure that every child receives a high-quality education and graduates from high school ready for college or a career. Already, the district is seeing results. We can learn from his success.”
Morrison has been the WCSD superintendent since 2009. The WCSD is the second largest school district in Nevada with about 63,000 students enrolled in 93 schools. Between 2009 and 2011, the district’s graduation rate jumped to 70 percent from 56 percent, with increases in every student subgroup. The district also has achieved significant test score gains and has narrowed the achievement gap in many subject areas.
Morrison said credit is due to the teachers and administrators who work hard every day to give students the best educational experience possible.
“It’s 7,400 people trying to make life better for 63,000 children,” he added.
Morrison has received numerous awards and honors, including recognition as Superintendent of the Year in 2011 from the Nevada Association of School Superintendents and the Nevada Association of School Boards; the 2012 Leadership Through Communication Award from AASA, NSPRA and Blackboard Connect; and the Distinguished Educational Leader Award from the Washington Post.
As the 2012 National Superintendent of the Year honoree, Morrison is entitled to present a $10,000 college scholarship to a student at the high school from which he graduated or to a student from a high school in his current district.
Morrison said he was looking forward to returning to northern Nevada to continue the tireless work of education.
“It will be business as usual when I get back,” he said. “Our work is never done.”