2020 Tillman Scholar

Mike McCarthy

University of Washington

“I am wholly committed to the future of our nation and there is no greater honor than to elevate our youth through a world-class education.”

Following the powerful call of public service, Mike joined the military in 1998, desiring to both become an educator serving his community and a soldier serving his nation. His first step toward that goal was attending Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho where he balanced scholarship, service in the National Guard and athletics as a varsity baseball player. Upon graduating, Mike returned to the community in which he grew up, even teaching at the middle school he attended. He used his love of sport to impact lives on the baseball and football field as a middle and high school coach.

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mike deployed as a member of the Washington Army National Guard where he served as an infantry team leader conducting patrols, raids and humanitarian relief missions in the heart of Baghdad. Mike was on the ground for the first democratic election in Iraq and witnessed the power of diplomacy and the building of community to create social change.

Following another deployment to Iraq in 2009, Mike pursued a master’s degree and principal credential at the University of Washington in Seattle. The Tillman Foundation supported Mike in attaining his Doctorate and school superintendent certification from The University of Washington in 2021. Mike has served as an elementary and middle school principal, the Director of K-12 Mathematics, and a Director of Schools working to celebrate our young people’s brilliance and eliminate achievement disparities in our school systems.

Mike desires to create strong communities through ensuring excellence in public education. He believes strong leadership, clear policy and high quality, equity-cenrered instruction instruction are tenants of excellent school systems. Dr. McCarthy currently leads as a Regional Executive Director of Schools for the largest school district in Washington State–Seattle Public Schools.