This week, a new Washington State Teacher of the Year was chosen to replace Spokane's Mandy Manning, who went on to win the national award.
But Manning isn't the only local educator to represent Spokane Public Schools in the state. Gina Naccarato-Keele, principal at Linwood Elementary, goes into the school year as 2018 elementary principal of the year. The award is handed out by the Association of Washington School Principals, and Naccarato-Keele is just the second person from Eastern Washington to win the award at the elementary level.
Naccarato-Keele says she's enjoyed advocating for kids since winning the award earlier this year.
"I think I'm a good advocate for kids," Naccarato-Keele says. "I love my job and I love my students, and I want to make sure they have everything they need, support-wise."
With Spokane Public Schools emphasizing disciplinary practices that keep kids in school, Naccarato-Keele says Linwood has developed structures aimed at supporting students. A "child study team" meets twice a month to discuss how to support certain children and to create a support plan. The school also has implemented an initiative called SLIC, Students at Linwood Improving Character, which provides extra social and emotional support to kids who may need it.
Naccarato-Keele has been touring the state, meeting recently with Gov. Jay Inslee. In October, she'll visit the White House in Washington, D.C., for a gala and a tour. (She does not expect to meet the president.)
"I'm proud to represent not only Spokane Public Schools as a district — I think we're really forward thinking with a lot that we do — but also the state of Washington" she says.