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Three High School Principals Chosen as Finalists for National Award

By Catherine Gewertz — June 27, 2016 2 min read

Middle and high school principals from Colorado, Georgia, and Virginia have been tapped as finalists to become 2017’s national secondary school principal of the year.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals will announce the winner in October. A panel of judges chose the finalists from among the state high school principals of the year, who were in turn selected by their states’ principals’ associations. NASSP’s current national principal of the year is Alan Tenreiro of Cumberland High School in Rhode Island.

The three finalists are:

Tom Dodd, principal of Lesher Middle School, Fort Collins, Colo.

Dodd garnered attention for turning around Lesher Middle School, which now has a waiting list after hovering on the verge of closure. Concerned that an International Baccalaureate program at the school created two tracks of students, Dodd expanded use of the school’s competency-based report cards from the IB program to the entire school, and built a culture that prizes close monitoring and support for all students by their teachers. To support teachers, Dodd reworked the schedule to allow for 80 minutes daily of common planning time. During Dodd’s 11-year tenure, Lesher Middle School has been recognized as a school to watch by the NASSP and the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform.

Melissa Hensley, principal of Central High School, Woodstock, Va.

Hensley has been recognized for her work to build a shared leadership model with her teachers. Teachers help shape key school improvement priorities and their own professional development. The U.S. Department of Education invited Hensley and her team to discuss their work at the department’s “Teach to Lead” summit earlier this year. Hensley’s work has also focused on building student leadership, by adopting an active, project-based learning approach.

Stephanie Johnson, principal of Maynard H. Jackson High School, Atlanta, Ga.

Georgia leaders sought out Johnson in 2012 to turn around Jackson High School, which was languishing near the bottom of the state’s list of weak high schools. With intensive outreach to her community, Johnson has built an array of Advanced Placement classes for students, instituted an International Baccalaureate program, and expanded co-curricular offerings to build student engagement. Scores on state tests have risen in all student subgroups.

Photos: NASSP


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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.

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