Rec­og­niz­ing ex­em­plary prin­ci­pals around the Val­ley

The Arizona Republic - - Opinions - Repub­lic Your Turn Steve Watson Guest colum­nist Steve Watson is the Mari­copa County school su­per­in­ten­dent.

colum­nist Joanna All­hands is right, there are too many un­sung heroes in our schools and many wor­thy in­di­vid­u­als in the ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sion who are of­ten left out of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion de­bates. (“Prin­ci­pals can make or break a school. Why do we over­look what they do?” May 20, 2019.)

That’s why over the last few weeks I have per­son­ally pre­sented 11 Val­ley prin­ci­pals with Ex­em­plary Prin­ci­pal awards based on a se­ries of rig­or­ous cri­te­ria and ed­u­ca­tion-re­lated bench­marks.

Th­ese are an­nual awards pre­sented to in­di­vid­u­als who are not just ex­tra­or­di­nary prin­ci­pals, but are cat­a­lysts trans­form­ing schools into mod­els for every as­pir­ing prin­ci­pal in Mari­copa County.

They got th­ese awards be­cause of the way they self­lessly sup­port and in­spire teach­ers — all while bud­get con­straints, pres­sure to in­crease ef­fi­cien­cies and other chal­lenges threaten to in­ter­fere with the re­la­tion­ship be­tween teacher and stu­dent.

This pro­gram shines a light on, and cel­e­brates lead­ers who create an en­vi­ron­ment in which stu­dents and teach­ers thrive.

When I vis­ited th­ese schools I was struck by the pride and love each stu­dent and teacher felt for their prin­ci­pal. It fur­ther con­firmed to me that we were do­ing the right thing and rec­og­niz­ing the right peo­ple for their hard work.

With more than 1,100 prin­ci­pals in our county’s dis­trict, char­ter and pri­vate schools, th­ese in­di­vid­u­als rep­re­sent the top 1% of our county’s prin­ci­pals.

Th­ese award re­cip­i­ents are not just teach­ers but also pro­foundly tal­ented and ef­fec­tive lead­ers who en­cour­age teach­ers to be their best for kids.

The awards are given to prin­ci­pals who:

❚ Ex­em­plify prac­tices and lead­er­ship (dur­ing the past three school years) that con­trib­ute to high ex­pec­ta­tions and ex­cep­tional stu­dent learn­ing.

❚ Ac­tively en­gage staff, par­ents and com­mu­nity mem­bers in de­vel­op­ing an ef­fec­tive school cul­ture.

❚ Put in place data to guide in­struc­tion and de­ci­sions re­gard­ing staff de­vel­op­ment.

❚ Have a his­tory of high teacher re­ten­tion.

❚ Demon­strate the abil­ity to suc­cess­fully de­velop and in­spire oth­ers.

I spent 15 amaz­ing years as a class­room teacher. I un­der­stand that good lead­er­ship in ed­u­ca­tion is some­thing we should never take for granted but in­stead be cel­e­brated and shared.

My job as county school su­per­in­ten­dent has a gov­ern­ing com­po­nent: pro­vid­ing over­sight of school dis­trict board, bond and over­ride elec­tions, fill­ing school board va­can­cies, and mon­i­tor­ing school fi­nances.

Those for­mal obligation­s are sup­ple­mented by the im­por­tant work our of­fice does to am­plify teacher voices, el­e­vate their pro­fes­sion, and pro­vide re­sources that help schools de­liver on their prom­ise to ed­u­cate our stu­dents.

Re­ceiv­ing an Ex­em­plary Prin­ci­pal award is more than just a pat on the back for a job well done or an an­nual per­for­mance re­view that’s merely above the av­er­age.

Th­ese lead­ers are ed­u­ca­tion heroes. I am hon­ored to rec­og­nize them publicly for the work they do qui­etly. They are ex­cep­tional peo­ple re­spond­ing to per­haps the high­est call­ing — ed­u­cat­ing our chil­dren.

The 2019 Mari­copa County Ex­em­plary Prin­ci­pal Award Re­cip­i­ents are:

❚ Dr. Ana Gomez del Castillo, Kyrene de los La­gos

❚ Nancy Branch, Kyrene de la Mi­rada

❚ Tony Smith, Aux­ier Ele­men­tary School

❚ Tri­cia Graham, Canyon Springs

STEM Academy

❚ Dr. Linda Price-Barry, West Wing School

❚ Thea Hansen, Carol Rae Ele­men­tary School

❚ Megan Gest­son, Irene Lopez Ele­men­tary School

❚ Tamara Jagodzin­ski, Hopi Ele­men­tary School

❚ Diana Cameron, Sand­piper Ele­men­tary School

❚ Jes­sica Larsen, Aguilar Ele­men­tary School

❚ John Trezise, Her­mosa Vista Ele­men­tary School

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