Mary Alice Heuschel, who leads the Renton School District, is one of four finalists for national school superintendent of the year.

Mary Alice Heuschel, who leads the Renton School District, is one of four finalists for national school superintendent of the year.

Heuschel and three other finalists were chosen from 49 who were superintendent of the year in their respective states. The four will be interviewed next week in Washington, D.C., by a panel of educators, businesspeople and government officials.

The overall winner will be announced on Feb. 17, at the national conference of the American Association of School Administrators.

Heuschel has been Renton’s school superintendent since 2000. The school administrators association praised her for her “relentless pursuit of equity and excellence and unwavering belief that all students meet high personal and academic standards.”

Under Heuschel’s leadership, the association says that Renton’s graduation rate has risen to 93 percent, and the achievement gap is narrowing. The school district has about 14,000 students.

Before Heuschel started work in Renton, she was deputy state superintendent of public instruction for the state of Washington.

The three other finalists are: Phinnize Fisher, of the Greenville County School System in South Carolina; Marcus Johnson, of California’s Sanger Unified School District; and Tom Trigg, of the Blue Valley Unified School District in Kansas.

Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or lshaw@seattletimes.com