And the ‘Principals on the Pitch’ contestants are...

Congratulations to two outstanding Northwest principals, Rick Harwood of Global Connections High School (Tyee) in SeaTac and Seth Adams of Issaquah Middle School. They’ll compete in the PEMCO-Sounders FC “Principals on the Pitch” halftime matchup when the Seattle Sounders FC meet the LA Galaxy on Oct. 25 at CenturyLink Field.

And what will they be doing, you ask? Why, racing for cash in giant hamster balls, of course!

To celebrate standout Northwest Principals during National Principals Month, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association called on educators statewide to nominate the “best of the best” middle- and high-school principals for the contest. Rick and Seth were chosen from among 44 nominees, all of whom combine innovation, dedication, and a sense of fun to push their schools from good to great.

Principal Rick HarwoodThis week, we’ll introduce Rick, a 34-year education veteran, whose co-workers offered kudos like these on his nomination forms:

"He is the best leader I have ever worked for. He is fair, pushes us teachers to improve in supportive ways, and truly has the kids’ best interest in mind with every decision he makes."

"Rick is an incredibly compassionate leader, who uses years of experience and a relentless work ethic to reinvent our school where it needs change."  

"He authentically builds relationships with students. He knows all students by name and makes it a priority to build relationships with students who tend to struggle the most in school …. Rick is an advocate for his students and his staff. He listens to all their needs, supports decisions, and stands behind his school community. He is the heartbeat of our school."

Of his nine years as principal at culturally diverse Global Connections, Rick says the best part of his day is when he walks into classrooms and finds students interacting in collaborative and respectful ways as they learn. “It makes me proud of the work our teachers do to prepare and provide a meaningful learning environment for all of our students,” he said.

“I enjoy getting to know our students really well and seeing them grow through their four years into mature young adults prepared to go out into the world to college and to pursue career interests,” he said.

Although he grew up in New York, Rick’s practically a Northwest native. He moved to Seattle in 1974 and earned his master’s degree and principal certification from the University of Washington. He’s an avid bicyclist (and even rode in the annual Seattle-to-Portland race with his Tyee bike club students!).

All that biking may come in handy when it’s time to roll in the giant hamster ball. So will nine years of leading school assemblies. “Being willing to take risks and have fun with my students has probably prepared me for being in front of so many people and trying to win a race in a giant hamster ball.

“I think I’m ready for the challenge!” Rick said.

The winner of the obstacle course race will take home the $2,000 top prize for his school, with the runner-up receiving $1,000. Both contestants also each get a school visit from a Seattle Sounders FC player and 25 tickets to the game so their students can join them on the pitch to cheer them on.

Good luck! 

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