Winner to be revealed during National Assistant Principals Week, April 8–12, 2019

Reston, VA– The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has announced three assistant principals from across the United States as finalists for NASSP’s 2019 National Assistant Principal of the Year. Each year, NASSP recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students. These assistant principals are acknowledged by their peers for the exemplary contributions they have made to the profession.

Lainie Kitzmiller has served as assistant principal for the past eight years at Empire High School in Tucson, AZ, a school which opened its doors in 2005 as the nation’s first comprehensive public high school to completely abandon textbooks in favor of a 1:1 laptop initiative. Though Empire was already renowned for its high achievement, Kitzmiller led a reimagining of the school’s mission in 2014 to focus on 24/7 learning and relationships in a personalized environment that values individual differences. Drawing on her middle school background, she co-created the school’s remediation program to intervene with students still mastering certain standards. The number of failing grades by freshmen has also dropped significantly during the past few years with Kitzmiller’s creation of the freshman team, a group of counselors and teachers who focus on transition to high school and early intervention for new students who are struggling academically. Her success as an administrator has not gone unnoticed by the Vail Unified School District, which now regularly assigns administrative interns to Kitzmiller so that she can help them launch their own leadership careers.

Meghan Redmond is in her fourth year as assistant principal at Chief Ivan Blunka School in New Stuyahok, AK, a K–12 school consisting of 134 students who can only access the school by boat or plane. Because the remote nature of the school limits opportunities for exposure to various careers and other robust experiences, Redmond leads the school’s quarterly exploration weeks which allow students to focus on one or two courses that help them explore careers and interests—with some leading to industry-based certifications. She also started the Small Schools Matter group to draw attention to the needs of small, remote schools, and recently brought students to the state capital of Juneau to advocate for funding. Driven to provide a culturally relevant education for the nearly 100 percent Yup’ik Eskimo Alaska Native population, Redmond incorporates the native language into the school. Such efforts build trust within the native community—a trust which is often tested by high teacher turnover in rural Alaska. The school’s administrative team focuses on valuing teacher talent in order to retain it, evidenced by a 100 percent staff retention rate for the current school year.

Gregory Schillinger brings 16 years of leadership experience to his position as associate principal at Rutland High School in Rutland, VT, a socioeconomically diverse school that maintains a graduation rate of 98 percent. Living the mantra of his district’s leadership, “Every student, every day,” Schillinger prioritizes relationships as a gateway to deep learning, instituting an advisory program and regularly surveying the school community to ensure that each student is well-known by at least one adult in the school. Under Schillinger’s guidance, the freshman team has developed an interdisciplinary Global Studies and STEM fair and also participated in the Global Issues Network conference. Both are project-based events which require that students take ownership of their learning. These programs illustrate how Rutland High School has evolved its philosophy on student outcomes. The school now prioritizes improved student learning by allowing multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning. “We don’t let students off the hook with a bad grade,” Schillinger says. “Instead, they need to keep trying until they’ve demonstrated that they can do the work.” Schillinger is a former executive council member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and he frequently consults with schools and presents for Marzano Research.

“The work of these three leaders reminds us that when you invest in leadership, you invest in learning,” says NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “They model the kind of forward-thinking, integrated leadership NASSP articulates in the Building Ranks framework, and we are honored to recognize these individuals for their commitment to their students, school, and 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 selects one assistant principal to represent their state. Of these, three finalists are named as contenders for the award, with one being recognized as the NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year.

The 2019 National Assistant Principal of the Year will be announced in April 2019 during National Assistant Principals Week and formally recognized during the 2019 National Principals Conference in Boston, July 18–20. For more information, visit


The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high-quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council.