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Niwot High School leader named Colorado Assistant Principal of the Year for Secondary Schools

Friday, November 17, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Zach Kinder
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For Immediate Release

November 17, 2017


Melissa Gibson
CASE Director of Membership and Strategic Partners





Andrea Smith, 2018 Colorado Assistant Principal of the Year for Secondary Schools


Niwot High School Leader Named Colorado Assistant Principal of the Year for Secondary Schools


DenverAs Niwot High School (NHS) students arrive each morning, they are greeted by the smiling and enthusiastic face of Assistant Principal Andrea Smith. Her devotion and excitement are a reflection of the student-centered approach that has been cultivated by administration, teachers, counselors and staff at NHS.


On Monday, the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and the Colorado Association of Secondary School Principals (CASSP) named Smith the 2018 Colorado Assistant Principal of the Year for Secondary Schools. 


“I am honored to accept this award, which is really a celebration of all the hard work of our teachers, counselors, staff, students and leadership team,” Smith said. “We are doing some innovative and progressive work at Niwot and in St. Vrain Valley Schools, and I am so lucky to be a part of such an amazing school and district. I love what I do, and being part of a team that makes it fun and enjoyable.”


Since arriving at Niwot three years ago, Smith has played a large role in continued efforts to improve relationships with students and teachers through development of a teacher-led professional development structure that allows teachers to share their knowledge and practice with other teachers; a student-centered master schedule that allows students to play a larger role in course choices; and the implementation of a technology plan that utilizes tools to support students and effective instruction. 


“We have a mission to provide an excellent education for all our students, and everything we do supports that mission,” Smith said. “It takes all these moving parts for that mission to come to life. It boils down to the excellent work our teachers and counselors are doing alongside our leadership team.” 



In a school the size of Niwot, it’s possible for students to feel disconnected from leadership, but Smith strives to make sure her students understand she sees them as individuals. 



“Not only is she devoted to the student body as a whole, but she is concerned with each individual student, taking time to get to know them and helping them through their struggles,” senior Genevieve Frye said. “Our motto at Niwot is that ‘you matter.’ Ms. Smith makes everyone feel valued, and she is greatly appreciated.”



Early in her tenure with Niwot, the school also became a 1:1 iPad school as part of a district initiative. Smith, along with the Learning Technology Plan (LTP) Team, volunteered to lead the charge and coordinate an implementation process to successfully prepare students and teachers for technology use. 



“She encouraged me to become a Nearpod Certified Instructor so that I could bring this expertise back to the building,” teacher Krista Chiaravalle said. “As a result, we have many staff members who teach classes at the school and district level on effective use of technology.”



While part of her rollout included encouraging teachers to become technology experts, another part included training upperclassmen to assist younger students in setting up their iPads. For her role in the implementation process, the district honored Smith with an Excellence in Education Award. 



“[She] is one of the most enthusiastic, supportive and caring administrators I’ve met,” parent Aimee Brown said. “She takes the time to get to know students on a personal level, and is amazing at encouraging them to succeed. Her ability to authentically connect with students is one of her greatest strengths.”



This will be the second time a Niwot principal has been honored in as many years. Earlier this year, Principal Eric Rauschkolb was named the 2017 Colorado Secondary School Principal of the Year. 



Smith was selected for this honor by her peers through a rigorous and competitive CASSP-facilitated process. CASSP is a department of CASE and affiliate of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). In addition, Smith will represent Colorado in the National Assistant Principal of the Year program, sponsored by NASSP.



The award recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students, as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession. The selection criteria emphasize collaborative leadership; leadership in curriculum, instruction and assessment; and personalization for student learning. 



CASE and CASSP will formally present Smith with her award at an upcoming school event. She and other CASE award winners will also be recognized at an award ceremony this spring. As Colorado’s Assistant Principal of the Year for Secondary Schools, Smith will be honored in Chicago this spring along with other state winner. 



The Colorado Association of School Executives (www.co-case.org) is the preeminent professional association for public school administrators in Colorado. The organization’s mission is to empower Colorado education leaders through advocacy, professional learning and networking to deliver on the promise of public education.




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