2017 State Assistant Principals of the Year

Each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Office of Overseas Schools, and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity will select one assistant principal to represent their state. State winners are selected from applications submitted to the state associations.

Because each state’s selection process varies, please contact your state association for more information on their selection process.

2017 State Assistant Principals of the Year

State Name School Name
Alabama Carrie Busby Hoover High School
Alaska Jeff Nelles Wasilla High School
Arizona Tony Torres Corona Foothills Middle School
Arkansas Shannon Lewis The Academies at Jonesboro High School
California Carrie Schwartz North Hollywood High School
Colorado Suzanne Acheson Hinkley High School
Connecticut Christopher Koch Frank Scott Bunnell High School
Florida Anne Bieber Vero Beach High School
Georgia Chris Chitwood Hilliard A. Wilbanks Middle School
Hawaii Geri Martin Ewa Makai Middle School
Idaho Burke Davis Shelley High School
Illinois Andrew Johnson Teutopolis High School
Indiana Amber Schroering Brownsburg East Middle School
Iowa Jeff Schneekloth Taft Middle School
Maine Melanie Smith Messalonskee Middle School
Maryland Robert Willoughby North Caroline High School
Massachusetts Maureen Kemmett Furnace Brook Middle School
Michigan Scott Long Orchard Lake Middle School
Minnesota Angela Doll Moorhead High School
Missouri Beth Middendorf Parkway West High School
Montana Shanna Smith Belgrade High School
Nebraska Heather Daubert Beadle Middle School
Nevada Derek Fialkiewicz Brian and Teri Cram Middle School
New Hampshire Kelly Parker South Meadow School
New Jersey Brad Currie Black River Middle School
New Mexico Deborah Moya ABQ Charter Academy
New York Thomas Kachadurian Colonie Central High School
North Carolina Amy Mims Independence High School
North Dakota Amber Rudolph Cheney Middle School
Ohio Ryan Rismiller Harding High School
Oklahoma Dusty Throckmorton Guthrie High School
Oregon Kimie Carroll Canby High School
Pennsylvania Laura Wade Hershey High School
Rhode Island Jonathan Mendelsohn Central High School
South Carolina Abbey Duggins Saluda High School
Tennessee Amy Connifey-Marlin Blackman High School
Texas Melissa King-Knowles Canyon Vista Middle School
Utah Ryan Nield American Fork High
Vermont Geoff Lyons Bellows Free Academy
Virginia Michael Pflugrath South County High School
West Virginia Dale Glancy Saint Albans High School
Wisconsin Douglas Crowley DeForest Area High School
Wyoming Ron Estes Jr. Natrona County High School

Alabama

Carrie Busby

Carrie Busby

Hoover High School
Hoover, AL

Grades: 9–12
Students: 2,924
Region: Suburban

Hoover High School’s method of collaborative leadership helps us serve the needs of students so that all can have the opportunity to make educational gains and become ready for life after high school. My personal pride comes from learning to create a master schedule that allows our students to engage in a diverse selection of classes, athletics, and extracurricular activities. Our leadership philosophy on master scheduling is to find ways to build a schedule that is student-driven and ultimately seeks to improve and enrich student performance. To that end, we house successful Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, academies in which grade 9–12 students can specialize, and a variety of electives for students to choose from.


Alaska

Jeff Nelles

Jeff Nelles

Wasilla High School
Wasilla, AK

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,026
Region: Rural

Wasilla High School (WHS) has made some big changes in reshaping the climate of our school. We have implemented Capturing Kids’ Hearts and have seen many positive changes reflected in our school climate survey. As an administration, we have really stressed to staff and students that relationships matter here at WHS. Each class starts with “Good Things” and creating a social contract, then ends with a launch. Students are asked to identify at least one caring adult at the school who they can go to if they are having a problem. If they can’t identify one, we ask our staff who know that student to work on building a relationship with them. We want our students to be connected to our school and have found that building positive relationships with them helps. I believe that students’ have a greater sense of belonging and pride of our school because of the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program.


Arizona

Tony Torres

Tony Torres

Corona Foothills Middle School
Vail, AZ

Grades: 6–8
Students: 461
Region: Suburban

In 2008, we reevaluated our grading practices and found that students were passing state assessments, but failing school tests. In a collaborative effort with the principal, district, and teachers, we decided to shift from the practice of grading students’ solely based on their work to a system focused on our instructional practice to reflect only our teaching, standards, and assessments. From this collaborative effort came mastery-based grading. Corona Foothills Middle School has since excelled, receiving the highest state ratings for the past 10 years, and is recognized as a top performing middle school in the state of Arizona. In the spirit of Breaking Ranks and school reform, we shifted our approach, thinking, and instruction.


Arkansas

Shannon Lewis

Shannon Lewis

The Academies at Jonesboro High School
Jonesboro AR

Grades: 10–12
Students: 1,199
Region: Suburban

I am an educator “on the move.” A typical day for me involves engaging and checking on students at my school, particularly those students who are often overlooked and not progressing as they should be. Having meaningful conversations with these students is a priority, as I want to help them reach their full potential. As a leader, I aim to be caring and supportive, and work collaboratively with teachers to ensure that the school, and its programs, are successful.


California

Carrie Schwartz

Carrie Schwartz

North Hollywood High School
North Hollywood, CA

Grades: 9-12
Students: 2,521
Region: Urban

In the fall of 2010, I was given the task to bring the special education department into state and district compliance. In order to achieve this goal, it was necessary to retrain the teachers to write conforming Individualized Education Plans, align curriculum to state standards, and initiate a collaborative approach to teaching. In 2013, I launched a pilot integration program that has enabled our mild to moderate special needs students to receive the necessary rigor, socialization, and behavioral support in a general education setting. Students who are on the alternate curriculum are now in at least one general education elective and are included in the “Unified Sports” program. Recently, North Hollywood High School received a commendation for providing inclusive learning environments, activities, and programs which provide unparalleled opportunities for students with disabilities.


Colorado

Suzanne Acheson

Suzanne Acheson

Hinkley High School
Aurora, CO

Grades: 9–12
Students: 2,081
Region: Urban

My personal success is dependent on student success. Inclusion is essential in the school environment and students in poverty are not likely to self-select honors classes. I enrolled one such student, a Somali refugee, in her first honors classes. She did not believe she could be in any honors class; she did not believe in herself. Now, she is confident, self-assured, and is taking all International Baccalaureate courses while maintaining a 4.2 GPA. Behind this student’s success is my work in each math and science professional learning team. Working with teachers, we created an intentional re-teaching plan, implemented it, and reassessed the students. Students greatly benefit from this approach. In math, 19 percent of students moved out of the lower bands into Approaching or Meets/Exceeds for PARCC.


Connecticut

Christopher Koch

Christopher Koch

Frank Scott Bunnell High School
Stratford, CT

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,041
Region: Urban

Recently, I was able to introduce and lead book talks for 27 teachers focused on boosting creativity, high quality instruction, and increasing student engagement in the classroom. I split the group in half and host these afterschool discussions each Tuesday and Wednesday in an intimate setting run by our student culinary department. Armed with an engaging book, homemade refreshments made by our culinary students, and a diverse group of teachers, the rich discussion among participants has already begun to impact lesson planning and student engagement. Once the book is finished, participants will lead professional development for other staff based on what they learned from the book and afterschool discussions.


Florida

Anne Bieber

Anne Bieber

Vero Beach High School
Vero Beach, FL

Grades: 9–12
Students: 2,887
Region: Suburban

My personal success is evident in the success our students have had. When I took over the curriculum, we looked at the data and how we were preparing students for the future. We determined two things that needed to happen—an increase in Advanced Placement courses and in career technology education. We followed through with offering more of these types of opportunities, and I developed a system of scheduling students that allowed us to open new sections of classes for students to take advantage of and enroll in. We have also increased the number of AP tests given by more than 343 percent.


Georgia

Chris Chitwood

Chris Chitwood

Hilliard A. Wilbanks Middle School
Demorest, GA

Grades: 6–8
Students: 497
Region: Rural

I was instrumental in creating a plan for academic success with a focus on curriculum, instruction, and assessment. I helped create a schedule with flexible learning groups/teams coached by all staff members in our building. Data helped us place each student on the appropriate team based on his or her needs, to create a personalized climate through smaller groups. Next, we created a “previewing” curriculum to maximize that instructional time. To encourage engagement and increase accountability, I created a “scoreboard” that is displayed in our atrium, which awards points each week. This program proved successful: We have a 97 percent attendance rate, 43 percent decrease in discipline referrals, and increased performance on system benchmarks.


Hawaii

Geri Martin

Geri Martin

Ewa Makai Middle School
Ewa Beach, HI

Grades: 7–8
Students: 958
Region: Suburban

It has always been my belief that before addressing the mind, students’ hearts and stomachs need to be filled. With a “whatever it takes” attitude, I have been able to work with students who have the most unfortunate circumstances and help them recognize their self-worth. At Ewa Makai Middle School, I created a class for students who may be feeling alienated from school. The objective for this class was for students to have one period with the assigned teacher. I didn’t want a class that students would be in all day because I felt it was important for them to be immersed in the general population while getting the individualized support needed to help them overcome their struggles. The students in this class have been happier and more successful.


Idaho

Burke Davis

Burke Davis

Shelley High School
Shelley, ID

Grades: 9–12
Students: 662
Region: Rural

I was inspired to change roles from a teacher to administrator when I was hired by Utah State University to supervise a student teacher. This student teacher came to Shelley High School, where I was able to provide teaching guidance and mentorship. I did not think too much about the experience until I was awarded the Outstanding Supervisor of the Year Award by Utah State. The student’s nomination letter touched my heart as it stated: “Mr. Davis….deserves this award not just because of what he has done to help me during my student teaching, but because of who he is and the things he does daily to help countless others.”


Illinois

Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson

Teutopolis High School
Teutopolis, IL

Grades: 9–12
Students: 346
Region: Rural

I had the opportunity while at Teutopolis High School to play a significant role in raising funds for a Chromebook 1:1 initiative for the district. I served on a committee with about 10 other members that raised $150,000 to purchase Chromebooks. Personally, I helped raise about $75,000 of that by meeting with several business people for their support. The intent was to provide more opportunities for students to learn with some of the most updated technology. The process was very enjoyable and the reward of knowing students will learn for years to come makes me feel the time and energy I spent was more than worth it!


Indiana

Amber Schroering

Amber Schroering

Brownsburg East Middle School
Brownsburg, IN

Grades: 6–8
Students: 1,042
Region: Suburban

During my 10 years at Brownsburg East Middle School, our student achievement has improved steadily from 21st in the state on our combined English and math scores in 2009, to first in the state last spring. We have also seen a decrease in expulsions, with zero instances last school year. Additionally, we have experienced growth and increased diversity. District enrollment has gone up to 8,527. The percentage of students receiving free/reduced lunch is up from 17.3 percent in 2009 to 26.2 percent last year and our minority populations are up from 16.5 percent in 2009 to 26.7 percent. I attribute these remarkable gains to collaborative leadership. I lead with a student-first mindset, providing a system where individuals’ capacities are built through clear and consistent communication, celebration of people and processes, and focused goals.


Iowa

Jeff Schneekloth

Jeff Schneekloth

Taft Middle School
Cedar Rapids, IA

Grades: 6–8
Students: 596
Region: Urban

I became Taft Middle School’s assistant principal during the 2010–2011 school year and was provided many opportunities, including the privilege to work with kids in making positive decisions. During my first year at Taft, students received a total of 1,074 discipline referrals. In 2015–2016, Taft students received a total of 507 discipline referrals, reflecting a decline of 53 percent. I consider this a success story for Taft and largely attribute that decline to my collaborative leadership with Taft’s PARRT program. PARRT is an acronym for Personal Best, Active Listening, Respect, Responsibility, and Trustworthiness. While leading PARRT for over six years, it has been a pleasure to join forces with all stakeholders including students, staff, families, and the community. This approach has promoted ongoing communication and data analysis that help drive our actions.


Maine

Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith

Messalonskee Middle School
Oakland, ME

Grades: 6–8
Students: 513
Region: Rural

Improving student attendance and truancy prevention is a weekly focus. Communication with families occurs frequently to troubleshoot attendance issues. When families cannot be reached by phone, home visits are made to discuss attendance concerns. These meetings take place to examine reasons for absences, develop a plan to address future absences, and come up with ways to support the student with missing assignments. Plans and attendance are reviewed frequently to ensure that each customized plan is successful for the student. When plans are not working, I meet with the student and their families again to revise the plan. I reach out to students and their families to give positive feedback when plans are successful. As a result, our attendance percentage has increased and the number of students truant has decreased.


Maryland

Robert Willoughby

Robert Willoughby

North Caroline High School
Ridgely, MD

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,106
Region: Rural

In 2015, North Caroline High School (NCHS) began to analyze their discipline data, which included a number of incidents, discipline procedures, and interventions. Through careful study and implementation of pre-referral interventions, the 2015-2016 school year saw a 35 percent decrease in the number of disciplinary incidents referred to the office. A continued focus on early and tiered intervention during the current school year has NCHS on track to lower that number again this year by approximately 25 percent. This is the result of collaborative planning, administrative support, and a staff dedicated to reflection and continual improvement of their craft.


Massachusetts

Maureen Kemmett

Maureen Kemmett

Furnace Brook Middle School
Marshfield, MA

Grades: 6–8
Students: 1,050
Region: Suburban

I am a strong believer in collaborative leadership. My own personal success stories involve inspired individuals sharing a common goal. For example, our school recently created a literacy committee as part of our One Book, One School program. The collaboration and shared leadership of staff members created a positive and empathetic school culture where all opinions are valued. The stories in the selected novels provided students and staff with ways to reflect, and helped everyone express kindness and empathy. These examples motivated the school community to collaborate to raise $125,000 to help children with cancer, to sponsor the education of 16 Afghani girls, and to raise $15,000 to build a well in South Sudan. These are just some ways that we have shown that collaboration leads to success.


Michigan

Scott Long

Scott Long

Orchard Lake Middle School
West Bloomfield, MI

Grades: 6–8
Students: 620
Region: Suburban

When I transitioned to assistant principal at Orchard Lake Middle School four years ago, I had 10 years of teaching experience under my belt. My classroom experiences influenced my mission to create authentic opportunities for teacher collaboration. Instead of asking teachers to complete more tasks with less time and resources, I gave them more time and resources to engage in meaningful dialogue to address something bigger than checking items off a to-do list. I did not accomplish this with extra money, by piloting new programs, or the creation of some elaborate scheme. Instead, I listened to the needs of our teachers and responded by creating structures within the school day to embrace, support, and encourage collaboration. As a result, teachers are coming together to ensure schoolwide improvement and student success.


Minnesota

Angela Doll

Angela Doll

Moorhead High School
Moorhead, MN

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,743
Region: Rural

Over the past four years, we have reduced the amount of time students spend out of class for disciplinary reasons by 70 percent. We have done this by reconceptualizing how we deal with students in need of discipline. Through collaborative leadership efforts, we’ve worked with our county’s truancy program, community mental health agencies, and restorative justice programs, to establish and build stronger relationships with our students and their parents. We have also brought together business and nonprofit agencies to collaborate with us to provide meaningful activities for students who need programming that makes school more relevant to them. Our reason for this mindset shift has been to keep students in class and to deal with discipline in a manner that is more individualized and done in collaboration with our community.


Missouri

Beth Middendorf

Beth Middendorf

Parkway West High School
Ballwin, MO

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,331
Region: Suburban

Since our district adopted the professional learning community (PLC) model in 2012, I have developed PLC leaders, assessed the effectiveness of our teams, and provided interventions for teams in need. Once a month, I train our PLC leaders. At first, learning centered on how to facilitate collaboration and PLC work. Then, I aimed to move their locus of motivation from external to internal. They now self-assess, solve problems, and make decisions together, while I serve as a facilitator and resource. They have developed into a building leadership team with a growth mindset and collective responsibility for the effectiveness of all PLCs. There also has been a positive correlation between our PLC effectiveness and state test scores. Moreover, we have seen increases in proficient/advanced English and math scores for our subgroups.


Montana

Shanna Smith

Shanna Smith

Belgrade High School
Belgrade, MT

Grades: 9–12
Students: 860
Region: Rural

Belgrade High School has recently formed transition groups. These groups consist of 20 to 30 of the most at-risk eighth grade students transitioning to high school. We focus on personalizing the high school environment for these students who have often struggled, been lost, or feel invisible during their school years. During our sessions, we work with teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents to give students an opportunity to find their voice and develop skills for personal success including goal setting, problem solving, and teamwork. Our priority is to create numerous positive interactions with high school staff and students that lead to familiarity and relationships that transitioning students can rely on in their freshman year for support and guidance.


Nebraska

Heather Daubert

Heather Daubert

Beadle Middle School
Omaha, NE

Grades: 6–8
Students: 1,009
Region: Suburban

In fall 2015, our students with autism were struggling. Their behaviors were disruptive, student learning was in jeopardy, and our teachers felt ill-equipped. With guidance from district and community experts, we collaborated and implemented a comprehensive six-month professional development program that went beyond serving just our students with autism. Once our staff understood the necessary supports for an autistic student, our teachers embraced instructional strategies for those with receptive and expressive language difficulties. Our special education staff then educated students and used peer role models to demonstrate appropriate behaviors for those needing social skill instruction. One year later, behavior referrals for our students with autism are down. Our students are in class, and their peers and teachers are much better equipped to support them.


Nevada

Derek Fialkiewicz

Derek Fialkiewicz

Brian and Teri Cram Middle School
North Las Vegas, NV

Grades: 6–8
Students: 1,438
Region: Urban

It takes a village to prepare students for a successful future. Learning must continue outside of the school walls. Teachers search for ways to involve parents and parents long to help their children at home. Unfortunately, teachers and parents both struggle with initiating this collaboration. After years of hearing parents proclaim, “I would love to help my child in math, but I don’t understand what they are doing,” I worked with my math teachers to develop classes for parents as part of a Parent University. Through these bi-weekly classes, parents and their children learn mathematics content and strategies from their children’s teachers. Parents who regularly attend have seen their children’s math grades increase at least one letter grade. One parent remarked, “Parent University has brought my family closer together.”


New Hampshire

Kelly Parker

Kelly Parker

South Meadow School
Peterborough, NH

Grades: 5–8
Students: 407
Region: Rural

South Meadow School is a caring, cooperative, and respectful community of learners. Creating a culture of respect, caring, and safety is paramount. In order to create such a culture, we strive to help students make connections and become part of the school community by joining and participating in a club, team, or sport. We believe students need at least one adult connection to feel a sense of belonging. As staff, we listed all students in grades 5–8 on poster paper. Staff members put a mark next to each student with whom they have developed a connection. The lists were tallied and shared out to staff to generate dialogue and awareness about students needing adult connections. These connections help improve academic and personal outcomes for students.


New Jersey

Brad Currie

Brad Currie

Black River Middle School
Chester, NJ

Grades: 6–8
Students: 464
Region: Suburban

I led efforts to ensure every middle school student had access to a computer through a 1:1 Chromebook initiative, as I felt strongly that students could thrive in a digital learning environment and enhance their knowledge of topics they studied in class. Additionally, I work hand in hand with the school’s technology coaches to ensure teachers receive the proper professional development as it relates to technology integration. I passionately believe that all students can create, collaborate, and learn in the digital world with a few taps of the screen or clicks of the mouse. The educational world has only begun to realize the true impact technology can have on teaching and learning.


New Mexico

Deborah Moya

Deborah Moya

Albuquerque Charter Academy
Albuquerque, NM

Grades: 9–12
Students: 271
Region: Urban

The vision at Albuquerque Charter Academy is to redefine the high school experience. The greatest success stories have come during commencement ceremonies. As I watch scholars walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, I am reminded of their diverse backgrounds and unique stories, as well as the many obstacles they have had to overcome to reach this point in their lives. Last year, I was able to watch a young scholar realize his potential and earn his diploma even when he did not believe he was capable or worthy of this accomplishment (he dropped out of a traditional high school in tenth grade and returned to school at the age of 19). He faced many challenges during his enrollment, but never lost sight of his ultimate goal.


New York

Thomas Kachadurian

Thomas Kachadurian

Colonie Central High School
Albany, NY

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,562
Region: Suburban

Collaborative leadership steers my view on education today. My goal is to have teachers as motivating facilitators and students assuming the roles of guided leaders. Creating opportunities for students to learn from solid teacher leader models and then act as student leaders for our community fosters the truest sense of education gained through practical means. We want students to emerge with skills in networking, advocacy, righteous determination, and innate problem-solving. Indignation and doubt has no place in a productive future, so I propel as many students as possible into a mindset of forward thinking generational healing. My goal is and will continue to be to unite the school community as one and to ensure that staff and students know that they are gifted, appreciated, and—among my most favorite identifiers—beloved.


North Carolina

Amy Mims

Amy Mims

Independence High School
Charlotte, NC

Grades: 9–12
Students: 2,493
Region: Suburban

My school’s low state test scores did not reflect my students’ abilities, and I determined that lessons were not aligned to state standards. I created and led professional development sessions on effective professional learning communities (PLCs) and a master schedule to provide PLCs with common planning times and supported teachers in creating rigorous lessons aligned to state standards. The instructional focus changed as teachers realized that assessments were not aligned. Using technology, we collected and analyzed assessment data to guide instruction. We consistently used data to remediate and challenge students, and in 2015, our state student achievement growth was number one in North Carolina.


North Dakota

Amber Rudolph

Amber Rudolph

Cheney Middle School
West Fargo, ND

Grades: 6–8
Students: 1,087
Region: Urban

Personalization has made a noteworthy impact at Cheney Middle School (CMS). As a school with a 30 percent minority demographic, it’s imperative to celebrate diversity, as our collective experiences are undeniably valuable. Last year, we saw many conflicts between ethnicities (i.e. fighting). This impacted our school culture and students’ sense of belonging. Simply put, our school was failing to provide an appropriate learning environment. In response, CMS brought together a group of students with a goal of unifying the student body. They organized events that educated others on different cultural perspectives, and a student panel made themselves available to share the reasoning behind their beliefs. It was a huge success. Students became informed and we saw a significant decrease in conflict with an increase in empathy.


Ohio

Ryan Rismiller

Ryan Rismiller

Harding High School
Marion, OH

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,033
Region: Urban

This year, we built our intervention periods with intention. We started discussions with the students and discovered their needs. The goal was to prevent the students from becoming at-risk and falling behind in their efforts to graduate from high school. Intervention periods were capped at a maximum of ten students in order to ensure students had time to meet with the teacher during the period. Students within the period work on advancing their current academics, get the support they need for credit recovery, and strengthen their skills in preparation for state testing. The best component of the program was being able to start with the students. Since the students had a voice in the program, they have taken ownership of the time and committed to their education.


Oklahoma

Dusty Throckmorton

Dusty Throckmorton

Guthrie High School
Guthrie, OK

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,029
Region: Rural

Personal, authentic relationships are an important part of my value system. I love that students refer to me as “Mr. T.” This gives me immediate feedback that my personalized approach is working. As an assistant principal, I have seen an increase in student achievement and attendance, and a decrease in student referrals. Since there is a positive correlation between attendance and academic achievement, I’ve developed a tracking tool for addressing attendance issues and keeping students in class. Participation in school events like dress up days has increased my visibility and approachability, and discussing academic and goal-setting topics in our advisory groups has also helped in positively affecting student achievement.


Oregon

Kimie Carroll

Kimie Carroll

Canby High School
Canby, OR

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,450
Region: Rural

I am not a fancy person. I am not the smartest, fastest, or most innovative person, but I do love my staff and students and want to know each and every one of them. I cry like a baby at graduation (I get teased about it each year) and have hopes and dreams for each of them after high school. I get to know my students and root for them to succeed beyond high school. I invest myself in my students and they know that. They know I care about them and they also know nobody is perfect, including me. My success is in the relationships I have built with the students, colleagues, parents, and community of Canby High School, where I’m honored to work every day.


Pennsylvania

Laura Wade

Laura Wade

Hershey High School
Hershey, PA

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,125
Region: Suburban

Over the last several years, I have worked to develop blended and online programming for Hershey High School. We have developed fully online courses, blended course opportunities, and unique learning experiences through courses like Passion Driven Research and Community Service. This programming has been created in partnership with a group of teachers who have enlisted students to ensure our work is guided by student voices. Through the implementation of personalized and flexible learning opportunities, we have increased enrollment in our Trojan Academy. In accomplishing this, we have built relationships among administrators, teachers, and students that allow us to work together as a community of learners. Not only do we help students find their passions but we also work together to share in their joy of learning.


Rhode Island

Jonathan Mendelsohn

Jonathan Mendelsohn

Central High School
Providence, RI

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,113
Region: Urban

Over the last several years, I’ve felt very fortunate to work with an administrative team and school community that has collaborated to improve student achievement. Central High School has progressively improved its performance on the district ELA/math assessment and has made gains in the state PARCC assessment. Moreover, we have provided more opportunities for students to enroll in honors programs in the ninth and tenth grade ELA/math classes. Finally, in the area of personalization, I have been supervising the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Mentoring Program at Central. This program seeks to identify ninth grade students with attendance challenges and pairs them up with a mentor. MBK has made an impact on improving attendance for these students.


South Carolina

Abbey Duggins

Abbey Duggins

Saluda High School
Saluda, SC

Grades: 9–12
Students: 612
Region: Rural

I am passionate about ensuring all students in my school have access to high-quality educational experiences. I am most proud of a program I created and fund through grant money called Saluda Creates Opportunities for Real Effectiveness, or SCORE. SCORE takes a whole-child approach and provides equal access and support for students through five components: after-school mentoring and tutoring with transportation; summer institutes; college visits and field studies; dual-enrollment tuition; and teacher professional learning opportunities. SCORE also provides students with school supplies. Recently, I was able to add enrichment components, such as a Robotics Club and piano and guitar lessons. Every facet of SCORE promotes positive relationships and personal connections between students and adults.


Tennessee

Amy Connifey-Marlin

Amy Connifey-Marlin

Blackman High School
Murfreesboro, TN

Grades: 9–12
Students: 2,171
Region: Suburban

I have been fortunate in my career to have worked with talented professionals. In March 2010, I became part of a five-member administrative team that replaced an ineffective team at the high school. The mission of the team was to increase student achievement, establish a safe learning environment, and implement professional learning communities to promote faculty collaboration. We collaborated as a leadership team to model the new objective of being student-centered, using best practices, and being visible in every aspect of the school. We implemented benchmark testing to monitor student progress, established an organized enrichment program, and created a specific and scripted remediation procedure to promote student achievement. Results from the first year included an almost 20 percent increase in the graduation rate, along with substantial growth in all tested subjects.


Texas

Melissa King-Knowles

Melissa King-Knowles

Canyon Vista Middle School
Austin, TX

Grades: 6–8
Students: 1,364
Region: Suburban

To meet the needs of our most vulnerable students, I spearheaded the creation of our Comprehensive After School Assistance Program. In this program, restorative discipline was woven into “Reflection, Not Detention.” Here, students were asked to reflect on actions they took that adversely impacted others and identify steps they could take to avoid similar outcomes down the road. “Friday Night Lights” evolved into a highly organized system that prevented students from falling behind weekly, and daily tutoring provided content-specific support. State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness preparation worked on purposeful test strategies and positive team-building activities so that students felt they had a group championing them on. Transportation was provided for those who needed it. Students thrived through these added systems of support; it was incredibly gratifying seeing them progress and succeed beyond that which they imagined!


Utah

Ryan Nield

Ryan Nield

American Fork High School
American Fork, UT

Grades: 10–12
Students: 2,369
Region: Suburban

One of the programs I have helped create is a class called Credit Recovery and Mentoring (CRAM). CRAM consists of five classes of remediation—biology, physics, English, math, and social studies—for students who failed the class previously. During the summer, I meet with these students’ parents at home to discuss the CRAM program. Over time, I’ve noticed that these students not only lack the knowledge to be successful, but more often they lack the necessary disposition. Therefore, the teachers involved in CRAM teach the content, but also work on these skills the students lack. In the six years I have been at American Fork High School, our graduation rates have climbed up to 97 percent. I know that programs I have helped to develop have contributed to making a positive impact in our school and community.


Vermont

Geoff Lyons

Geoff Lyons

Bellows Free Academy
St. Albans, VT

Grades: 9–12
Students: 900
Region: Urban

An area I chose to be a part of was the creation of an advisory period. Working with a committee of teachers and administrators, we focused on one of the seven Cornerstone Strategies to Improve Student Performance, which involved implementing a comprehensive advisory program to allow students to assess their academic and social progress throughout the year. The advisory period was scheduled for five days a week for approximately 15 to 20 minutes a day. Two advisers were assigned to a group of no more than 20 students. Today the advisory period still takes place five days a week, and the focus is on working with the students to develop their Personalized Learning Plans.


Virginia

Michael Pflugrath

Michael Pflugrath

South County High School
Lorton, VA

Grades: 9–12
Students: 2,186
Region: Suburban

Based on faculty input, I created an aspiring administrator’s group composed of staff interested in administration. Our mission is to provide targeted, meaningful professional development to those interested in school leadership. I developed the plan for this professional development, which is delivered by our administrative team and outside professionals. Additionally, this group provides a safe place for questions, mentorship, and education on pathways to leadership. Our efforts resulted in over 30 percent of the group applying for assistant principal positions last year, with most being selected for interviews. More importantly, this sends a message to our staff that we care about their growth and career progression.


West Virginia

Dale Glancy

Dale Glancy

Saint Albans High School
St. Albans, WV

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,050
Region: Suburban

Upon arriving to St. Albans High School, dropouts were a big problem. Our graduation rate was at 70 percent and the process for dropping out was simply that the student asked and the assistant principals signed the forms. I helped to set up Student Assistance Team meetings for each student before they could dropout. These meetings included our graduation coach, counselor, social worker, nurse, and the student and their parents. During these meetings we would discuss all the options the student had rather than dropping out of school. This has led to our dropout rate falling below two percent and our graduation rate climbing to 86 percent. These meetings help the students and parents explore all opportunities before resorting to a student dropping out of school.


Wisconsin

Douglas Crowley

Douglas Crowley

DeForest Area High School
DeForest, WI

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,039
Region: Suburban

How do you capture students that are credit-deficient, not engaged, don’t qualify for other programs, and are in danger of dropping out? We decided to figure this out. Working with our school psychologist and the other assistant principal, we sketched out a program for students who had evening jobs and attended school irregularly. What if we could find something that students could do in the afternoon/evening and arrange for employers to allow the student to work during the day? We researched what others were doing before settling on a competency-based, for-credit program that runs in the early evening, four days a week. Participants in this pilot program have all seen positive gains. For one student, it’s been, “life-changing. I’ve never cared about my education before.” To me, that’s already a success.


Wyoming

Ron Estes, Jr.

Ron Estes, Jr.

Natrona County High School
Casper, WY

Grades: 9–12
Students: 1,650
Region: Urban

Using the Professional Learning Community/Small Learning approach, focusing on building relationships with students, parents, and staff, and emphasizing a positive transition from middle to high school, we have consistently had 88–91 percent of our freshmen attain all credits their freshman year. We focus on learning rather than teaching, allow teachers to work collaboratively on matters related to learning, and student academic performance is monitored with interventions developed by teachers, parents, and students. If students struggle academically, behaviorally, or emotionally, an “at-risk process” is implemented to identify problems and develop accommodations and interventions for success. Using data to drive instruction has proven to be an effective strategy.