WORLAND – The Wyoming Association of School Administrators (WASA) announced this week that Washakie County School District No. 1 Superintendent David Nicholas has been honored as the 2021 Superintendent of the Year.
A letter of support to the WASA states, “The leadership of Mr. Nicholas is fostering an environment for learning, for not only the children and youth, but those that are called as educators, stakeholders and leaders. Our leadership is allowed the flexibility to develop and implement ideas centered around changing the lives of the youth we serve.”
Nicholas said that the superintendent of the year (SOY) is announced at the WASA spring conference in April.
“My nomination came from the Northwest superintendents. In 2018 I was fortunate to have my school board nominate me. The group of nominees this year is a talented group who would all be great representatives for SOY,” Nicholas said.
He added, “This is my 10th year in Worland and I am humbled by this honor, and recognize that I have a great team around me. Our administrators, our administrative assistants, teachers, and our students make this a great district to be a part of.
“I am grateful that the Worland trustees gave me a chance to work in this district. Districts who have success usually owe that success to good teamwork. I think our district is an example of that. I am proud of our district, our teachers, principals, and our students. I have enjoyed being a part of a district that has been able to celebrate high student achievement, and championships in many activities. It has been fun being on the team that got that done. Go Warriors!”
Washakie County School District No. 1 Board Chairman Don Bryant said the award is “so well deserved.” He said Nicholas has been a tremendous leader for the district during his 10 years, but especially this year through the COVID-19 changes.
“He has led us through this COVID situation. He has been a great example in trying to keep everybody going the right direction,” Bryant said.
He said Nicholas was also instrumental in getting the Northwest superintendents collaborating and working together.
WASA Executive Director Kevin Mitchell said the WASA Superintendent of the Year Award originated from American Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year Award, which is selected from the 50 states and Canada. All state SOY honorees are eligible for the national award.
Mitchell said there is usually about four nominations per year to the statewide award. He said the superintendents in each Wyoming region – Northwest, Southwest, Southeast and Northeast – nominate one of their peers.
A superintendent’s board of trustees can also nominate its respective superintendent.
This year, Mitchell said, there were five nominees. The nomination process if informal. Once nominated, the superintendents are asked to fill out an application. Those applications are reviewed by active, previous SOY winners, who rank the nominees. Mitchell then analyzes the rankings to determine the winner.
Typically, the award is presented at the WASA conference. This year the conference was scheduled for mid-April in Jackson but was postponed due to COVID-19. They are hoping to reschedule the conference in the fall but wanted to announce the winner early enough to give Nicholas time to prepare his extensive application for the national award. The national award is announced in February, which is why the state award is al for next year, 2021.
Mitchell said, “I’ve known David since he moved to Wyoming. I consider him a good friend and a great superintendent. He represents Washakie 1 and the state very well.”
The SOY is “quite an honor,” Mitchell said, noting that many people are nominated two to three times before actually receive it.
Nicholas has spent 30 years in the education field, the past 10 years as the superintendent for the Worland schools. He began his education administrative career as a middle school principal in South Dakota, and then spent the next 11 years serving as a superintendent in that state.
Nicholas attended Dakota Wesleyan University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and religion/philosophy. He received his Master of Education in educational leadership from South Dakota State University. He earned his specialist degree from the University of Sioux Falls.
Nicholas has served as president of Northwest WASA and is currently president of the University Partnership. He has attended the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs and has led his board members to attain education opportunities from Wyoming School Boards Association conferences, as well as national school board conferences.
According to a release from WASA, Nicholas and his board of trustees developed an intervention program to increase graduation rates by improving student attendance. Mr. Nicholas has also been very involved in the professional learning community (PLC) process, attending several conferences.
Since accepting the superintendent position in Worland, Nicholas has guided his district in becoming a true Professional Learning Community. This was instrumental in one of his schools (South Side Elementary when it was a neighborhood school) achieving “Blue Ribbon School” status in 2016. Collaboration in his district has made a huge difference for student performance, according to the WASA release.