R. Stephen Rasmussen capped two-plus decades as a school administrator by being named Washington Superintendent of the Year for 2001 and one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year.

Rasmussen, 51, has been superintendent of the 7,900-student Franklin Pierce School District since 1992. The district south of Tacoma serves a growing community with increasing ethnic and linguistic diversity.

When he was hired, the district faced a $600,000 deficit. In 1998, the district became the first in the state to pass a four-year school levy. The same year, voters approved a $25.6 million bond for construction.

The superintendent gladly shares his recognition. “It is about our staff and community commitment to education and is an acknowledgement of all our efforts,” he says.

The Burlington native, who grew up on a dairy farm, holds three degrees from Washington State University—a B.S. in agriculture, 1973, an M.S. in vocational-technical education, 1979, and an Ed.D., 1988. He chairs the College of Education’s professional education advisory board.