Congratulations to Debbie Nelsen of Hazel Wolf K-8 STEM!

Without a doubt, our favorite thing to do at the Alliance is celebrate the wonderful teachers, principals, and staff in Seattle Public Schools, so the Foster Award Prize Patrol is definitely a highlight each year.

The Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence is awarded to an exceptional principal every year and is accompanied with $50,000 for use at the school. After the winner of the Foster Award is selected by the Foster Endowment Trustees, the Alliance secretly enlists representatives and colleagues from Seattle Public Schools, along with the recipient’s family and friends, to surprise the winner with a presentation of the award and check.

This year’s recipient was Debbie Nelsen, Principal of Hazel Wolf K-8 STEM. Hazel Wolf K-8 (formerly Jane Addams K-8) is an elementary and middle school with a focus on environmental science. Following more than 20 years with Seattle Public Schools, Debbie was appointed principal of the school in 2009 and was charged with leading the planning and implementation of the environmental science program.

And what an AMAZING program Principal Nelsen has implemented a STEM program with a focus on the environment. Take a look at this video where actual students talk about their experiences at Jane Addams/Hazel Wolf.

We set Prize Patrol for Friday, March 13. We coordinated with staff at Hazel Wolf to put together a secret assembly with the entire school — all without tipping off Principal Nelsen!

Principal Nelsen was TOTALLY surprised! The school choir arranged a special song for her — watch it on YouTube here.

We heard from a number of people who told us how much Principal Nelsen deserved this prestigious award, often commenting on her steadfast commitment to her students, her ability to bring all kinds of stakeholders to the table and collaborate. In her 6 years at Hazel Wolf, Principal Nelsen has led the design and implementation of the E-STEM program, changed the name of the school, and now the school is in a temporary space as a new building is constructed. She has been called a collaborator and an innovator. She absolutely deserves this prestigious award. Congratulations Principal Nelsen!