The NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year (APOY) program annually recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals from across the country who provide high-quality learning opportunities for their students. They have been acknowledged by their peers for exemplary contributions to the profession. Each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity, and the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools select one assistant principal to represent them, and from these, three finalists are chosen.

We are excited to announce the three APOY finalists for 2020:


Jon Fitzgerald
Pattonville High School
Maryland Heights, MO

Jon Fitzgerald is most proud of the career readiness initiatives and programs that Pattonville High School has built over the past seven years. The school created four-year pathways in computer science, engineering, biomedical science, nursing, fashion and interior design, education and teaching, and culinary arts, in addition to traditional core academic offerings. Among these endeavors was also the development of a nursing simulation lab to ensure that the certified nursing assistant students have the ability to train extensively prior to going out and doing their clinical work. These pathways allow students to gain a great depth of experience in their chosen areas of interest. Fitzgerald listens to teachers and students, supports their ideas, and works with them to ensure that they have agency and are able to develop upon their ideas to completion—which has a tremendously positive effect on the school community.


Audrey Fish
Oquirrh Hills Middle School
Riverton, UT

When it comes to leadership, Audrey Fish’s approach is transparent, reflective, and collaborative. These traits have helped foster a culture of safety and well-being at Oquirrh Hills Middle School. In schools, it is imperative that each student and teacher feels nurtured during the educational experience. Fish believes that if we want our teachers and students to be competitive in the future, then it is our job to help them grow as learners. One of her proudest success stories occurred in the last two years when she implemented an instructional coaching model at the school. The school is developing a three-year plan to have the coaching model fully implemented and highly functional, with visible data of its effectiveness on student learning. This has shaped a culture of trust, transparency, and vulnerability to allow other adults to give nonevaluative feedback to improve teaching and student learning.


Debra Paradowski
Arrowhead Union High School
Hartland, WI

Debra Paradowski believes a healthy, safe, and positive school culture that supports students and staff is paramount for learning and a sense of belonging. She collaborated with staff on whole-school approaches to promote and support well-being, engagement, and social-emotional development. Paradowski started a student-centered group called Students Leaving a Mark to improve the school culture. By giving students a voice in their school’s routines, they were empowered to become confident learners. Opportunities were created for students to demonstrate leadership skills and guide the school in the right direction. Students made decisions about topics they wanted to address and outlined their action steps. The school observed an increase in positive behavior, attendance, academic accomplishments, and pride.

The APOY winner will be announced during National Assistant Principals Week this April 6–10, so stay tuned!

The national winner, along with all state Assistant Principals of the Year, will be recognized in a special ceremony during the 2020 National Principals Conference in July.

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