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For the first time, two Seattle Public Schools principals will be honored for excellence with an award typically given to just one person each year.

Mia Williams of Aki Kurose Middle School and Jennifer Wiley of Franklin High School were surprised with the announcement Friday afternoon. They each will be getting $50,000 for their schools as part of the Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence.

The Alliance for Education, which grants the award, selected Williams for her work to improve test scores and foster partnerships with the community during her five years as principal. One of those partnerships is with the academic mentor program Rainier Scholars, which shares Aki Kurose’s building.

“Mia is just a tireless advocate for her school community,” said Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Lesley Rogers. “She has created a culture of high expectations, inclusion, equity and respect.”

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Wiley, in her 10th year at Franklin, has overseen a strong athletics program and also has worked to improve student test scores, helping the school maintain the longest waitlist for admission of Seattle’s 10 high schools, according to Rogers. The school’s extracurricular clubs, including the mock trial and chess teams, have competed in national competitions.

“She has done amazing work with academics, and also above and beyond,” Rogers said.

For the past 11 years, the alliance has given the award to a Seattle public school principal who has served at the school for at least one year.

The alliance considers the schools’ improvements in students’ standardized test scores, as well as the principals’ leadership and administrative styles. It also looks at principals’ outreach to the school district and community.

In the past, teachers have used the prize money to purchase wireless Internet access for their schools, buy classroom equipment or hire new staff. Nathan Hale High School Principal Jill Hudson, who received the award last year, invested in new technology for her school.

Sarah Freishtat: 206-464-2373 or

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