Kristin Dickert: NAESP National Outstanding Assistant Principal
“It’s Not Because of Who Kristin is, It’s Because of What She Does”
Elementary AP of the Year Kristin Dickert Leads by Example at Mill Creek
Evaluation Criteria: Creating a Culture; Ensuring School Safety; Planning with Data; Aligning Curriculum; Improving Instruction; Managing Resources; Engaging Families & Communities; Closing the Gap
What is it that makes this year’s Washington State NAESP National Outstanding Assistant Principal, Kristin Dickert, so exemplary?
“Kristin is the perfect assistant principal because it is the job she has always wanted to have,” said Brenda Fuglevand, principal of Mill Creek Elementary (Everett PS). “She is fabulous at bringing kids together to solve their own problems and to help them be their best self.”
Comfortable in her role as an assistant principal, Dickert embodies the “bloom where you are planted” adage, said Fulevand.
"She effectively accomplishes all the essential duties of a strong instructional leader with grace and humor, and in every interaction communicates her desire and vision for a better future for all,” she said. “She maintains an artful balance of attention to high academic standards, respectful and personable interactions, humor, positive presuppositions, and an unwavering focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Under her leadership, the schoolwide math program is creating extraordinary results. Looking at real-time diagnostic data in the fall to target students needing help, teams form within the school to develop support structures — which Dickert calls “First…Next…Then” — for each student.
With a strong focus on culture and community, Dickert’s empathy and wisdom create partnerships with parents instead of a one-way relationship. She teaches parents how to guide their children’s learning.
Parents are taught strategies for home support. Data from this winter shows these programs are creating more than a year’s growth and closing learning gaps in many cases.
Dickert’s “each child is known well” mantra means every learner is respected, challenged appropriately, and served. She believes in bringing programs to students, not students to programs. Meeting students where they are and fulfilling the needs of the individual is just one example of her equity leadership. Dickert’s partnership with the school PTA created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The committee received a $1,000 grant to inform and educate the parent and student community on various topics and themes. A focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion permeates all levels of her leadership and helps make the school a safe, welcoming, and thriving place for all.
Part of that effort includes engaging students directly, said Fuglevand, and encouraging them to develop examples of acceptable behavior that reflect the school’s core values.
“Our four expectations are be safe, be respectful, be responsible, be kind – and she looked at what that looks like in every area of the school,” said Fuglevand.“ Kristin worked with a group of teachers and kids and they came up with a matrix of what is being respectful and responsible in the bathrooms look like? What does it look like in assemblies? What does it look like in the hallway? On the bus? And we now have posters all throughout the school of those expectations, so everybody knows what to do.”
With a strong focus on culture and community, Dickert’s empathy and wisdom create partnerships with parents instead of a one-way relationship. She teaches parents how to guide their children’s learning. Her weekly Friday Update newsletters make sure every parent knows what’s happening in the school. Her more detailed Monthly Family Newsletter updates families on district initiatives, longer-term school programs, and other helpful information. Aside from making her school a better place, Dickert is a sought-out mentor. Her guidance contributes to the success of many other assistant principals, expanding her impact even more.
“It’s not because of who Kristin is,” said Fuglevand, “it’s because of what Kristin does, and that is, she puts forth the most effort possible in every scenario.”
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