Nelson Selected to Lead Statewide Professional Learning for School Administrators
Longtime Enumclaw Superintendent Mike Nelson was selected by the Washington Association of School Administrators to lead Professional Learning for school leaders across the state of Washington. For the past 21 years, Nelson has served as an administrator in the Enumclaw School District. Nelson began working in the district in July 1999 as assistant superintendent. He took over the role of superintendent in January 2007 and is currently the longest-serving superintendent in King County and one of the longest in the state of Washington. Last year, he was recognized as the 2019 Washington State Superintendent of the Year.
Nelson has a long history with this community. Both sets of his grandparents immigrated to Enumclaw/Black Diamond in the early 1900’s. His parents, his brothers and two children all joined him in graduating from Enumclaw High School. He considered serving public education in the community in which he was raised a blessing to he and his family.
During the 21 years as one of the top two positions in the Enumclaw School District, Nelson and his team have focused their work on developing systems for all students. As a result, numerous gains and additions to academics, athletics and activities, as well as celebrations of accomplishments have occurred. Here are a few that might be intriguing to highlight:
- Strong academic and achievement gains
- Implementation of full day kindergarten for all students before it was a state requirement
- Expansion of advanced placement courses
- Expansion of activities such as equestrian, gymnastics and lacrosse
- Several state athletic and academic championships
- Building and expansion of the arts and career technical education programs
Nelson’s vision has always been an active part in the Enumclaw and Black Diamond communities. During the last 21 years, he has worked with several mayors, chamber executive directors and other non-profit leaders in striving to make this community a wonderful place for children and adults. He served multiple terms on the Enumclaw Chamber Board of Directors, including being president in 2003. Nelson is a member of the Enumclaw Rotary Club where he served as their president in 2016. He was also appointed to serve on the Enumclaw Arts Commission in the early 2000’s and was honored as Enumclaw’s Hometown Hero during that time. In 2000, he established the “Books for Babies” with Enumclaw attorney Dale Holland. For the past 20 years, approximately 6,000 book packets have been given to moms and their newborns at St. Elizabeth Hospital. Last summer, he and his wife Britt served as the Grand Marshals of the 4th of July Parade.
Making a difference in the community and doing so with school district initiatives has been a value for Nelson. In 2001, Enumclaw students and their families were joined by community members in reading 10,000,000 minutes. This goal culminated with an event filling the grandstands at Enumclaw Stadium and parachute jumpers landing on the field to celebrate literacy. Currently, during the long term closure of public schools, this community challenge was resurrected. In 2011, the Enumclaw and Black Diamond Communities embraced compassion and kindness by capturing acts of kindness throughout the community. Once again the Enumclaw Stadium was filled with people as one giant chain link of “kind acts” was walked onto the field by students, staff and community members. Both events, symbolic in nature, represent Nelson’s desire for a better community. Nelson is a founding member of the Enumclaw Schools Foundation. He has served from the beginning of this foundation to raise money to support Enumclaw Schools.
It has been important to Nelson to lead a fiscally sound budget. His years as the public school leader for Enumclaw and Black Diamond included enduring the recession of 2008 - 2012. He worked with his board to be strategic in reductions to not reduce or eliminate programs in a way that would be harmful after the recession ended. During his tenure as superintendent, there were seven levy or bond elections. All seven were supported by the citizens of the Enumclaw School District. Building the new Black Diamond Elementary School and Modernizing Enumclaw High School before the growth occurred and before there was a need for new schools was an important goal.
His parents were the ones to encourage him to work with children. They also were the ones to encourage professional attire. Nelson wears a suit to work every day. In the beginning, it was a basic black, gray or blue suit. Always shopping online, one day a suit arrived with a pattern. During the first time he wore it, he had several high school students comment how “cool” they thought his suit was. From this moment forward “suit guy” began to expand his suit collection from the traditional black, gray or blue.
Tina McGann, Enumclaw School Board President states, “Enumclaw School District has been fortunate to have Nelson’s leadership and vision over the course of his tenure, and he will be greatly missed as superintendent by the school board, staff, students and community members. We wish Mr. Nelson much success in his new position.”
Nelson is set to begin his new position on July 1, 2020. The Enumclaw School District Board of Directors will begin their search and selection for Nelson’s replacement in the coming weeks with a new superintendent in place by July 1, 2020.