RELEASE: Principal Treena Sterk and Eckstein Middle receive final Thomas B. Foster Award of 2018!

2:40 PM, December 20, 2018 

SEATTLE…. The Alliance for Education and Seattle Public Schools announced today that Principal Treena Sterk of Nathan Eckstein Middle School has received the Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence, a prestigious annual award for Seattle Public Schools principals who have demonstrated significant achievements in closing opportunity gaps in their schools. The award was presented as a surprise for Principal Sterk at Eckstein’s Thursday afternoon assembly.

Lisa Chick, President & CEO of the Alliance for Education; Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau, SPS School Board Director Jill Geary; Executive Directors Jon Halfaker and Sarah Pritchett; Principals Shannon Conner and Paula Montgomery; friends and family; Judith Runstad of Foster Pepper PLLC and Jody Foster of the Foster family joined the Thursday afternoon assembly at Eckstein to present Principal Sterk with the award. Nathan Eckstein Middle School will receive a $25,000 cash grant in recognition of Sterk’s achievement.

Principal Sterk began her tenure at Eckstein in February 2016. A native of Coos Bay, Oregon and a former social worker and teacher, Sterk has vast experience working with young learners of all ages. She strives to build cultural and social/emotional competencies in her school community, and is passionate about the importance of integrating experiences, multicultural perspectives and curriculum into the classroom. As an example, Principal Sterk actively works with the Eckstein PTSA to bring in speakers that broaden the tapestry of cultural and historical perspectives in the school.

 “Treena Sterk is beyond a doubt one of the smartest, hardest-working, and compassionate leaders I have ever met in my 25 years in education. Her energy seems limitless and her focus on social justice and racial equity is evidenced in the tone of her building and her success in reducing the achievement gap. She is the kind of colleague who inspires and offers support without judgment. It is an absolute joy to be a friend and colleague of Treena Sterk – I am so happy to see her recognized for her many accomplishments. We are lucky to have her in our principal corps in Seattle Public Schools.” – Shannon Conner, Principal, McClure Middle School

Thomas B. Foster was a prominent Seattle attorney who exemplified excellence in both his professional life and his role as civic leader. To honor his legacy, his family and friends established this annual award in 2000 to recognize outstanding school principals in Seattle. The Foster Endowment Committee and Alliance for Education and Seattle Public Schools’ staff work together to select winners based on community nominations and school-related data. The award is administered by the Alliance for Education.

Historically, the Foster Award was offered only once a year to secondary-level principals in Seattle Public Schools. Beginning this year, the Award’s focus is on principals closing opportunity gaps in their school communities, and has expanded to be available to all principals K-12. Four Foster Awards were presented this year. Principal Sterk received the final award for 2018, following Principal Rena Deese at Alki Elementary, Principal Anitra Pinchback-Jones at Rainier View Elementary, and Principal Chris Carter at Mercer Middle School. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, two Foster Awards will be presented annually.

To learn more about the Thomas B. Foster Award, please visit For more information, including details on how to cover our future events, please contact Zeynab Abdulqadir, (206) 205-0324.