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Spokane Public Schools educator named Washington principal of the year

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This week, a new Washington State Teacher of the Year was chosen to replace Spokane's Mandy Manning, who went on to win the national award.

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But Manning isn't the only local educator to represent Spokane Public Schools in the state. Gina Naccarato-Keele, principal at Linwood Elementary, goes into the school year as 2018 elementary principal of the year. The award is handed out by the Association of Washington School Principals, and Naccarato-Keele is just the second person from Eastern Washington to win the award at the elementary level.

Naccarato-Keele says she's enjoyed advocating for kids since winning the award earlier this year.

"I think I'm a good advocate for kids," Naccarato-Keele says. "I love my job and I love my students, and I want to make sure they have everything they need, support-wise."

With Spokane Public Schools emphasizing disciplinary practices that keep kids in school, Naccarato-Keele says Linwood has developed structures aimed at supporting students. A "child study team" meets twice a month to discuss how to support certain children and to create a support plan. The school also has implemented an initiative called SLIC, Students at Linwood Improving Character, which provides extra social and emotional support to kids who may need it.

Naccarato-Keele has been touring the state, meeting recently with Gov. Jay Inslee. In October, she'll visit the White House in Washington, D.C., for a gala and a tour. (She does not expect to meet the president.)

"I'm proud to represent not only Spokane Public Schools as a district — I think we're really forward thinking with a lot that we do — but also the state of Washington" she says.

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