Salem-Keizer superintendent Christy Perry talks during a virtual school board meeting on Tuesday, April 14. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem-Keizer's Christy Perry was named one of the top superintendents in the U.S. Friday.

Perry, who has led Oregon's second-largest school district since 2014, is one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year, an award given annually by the School Superintendents Association.

“This honor is reflective of the critical and urgent work of every educator in Salem-Keizer Public schools," Perry wrote in a statement. "Together, we are showing up for our students each and every day in order to assist them in their journey to graduation. As a leader, I love our district, am blessed to be surrounded by talented colleagues and continue to learn from our students and families every day. This honor is for all of us in Salem-Keizer, our staff, students, families and community."

Educators and leaders in Salem praised Perry in a nomination video for the award, saying she works to improve the skills of teachers and takes time to listen to communities of color.

"She enters the space with a humble heart and humility and she's there to listen and listen authentically," said Carmen Urbina, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Education.

"She is a leader that I believe really shares her power," said Carlos Ruiz, assistant principal at North Salem High School.

The recognition comes after Perry's peers in Oregon voted her Superintendent of the Year for the state in September, citing her willingness to mentor other school leaders and her leadership on racial equity in the district.

Many said Perry has been open sharing her own mistakes as well as successes, inspiring them do better work.

Other finalists for the national award are Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools in Tennessee; Khalid Mumin, superintendent of the Reading School District in Pennsylvania; and Michelle Read, superintendent of the Northshore School District in Washington.

The association evaluated superintendents from all 50 states and selected finalists based on their leadership in education, communication abilities, professionalism and community involvement, according to a press release.

A winner will be announced in mid-February, the association said. The winning superintendent will have a $10,000 scholarship given in their honor to the high school they graduated from.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

HOLIDAY SPECIAL: SAVE 25% off a one-year subscription to Salem Reporter. Get quality Salem news delivered to your inbox. Every subscription helps build coverage of the Salem community. Order online HERE.