Association of Washington School Principals
Volume 2 – 2020-21
Dr. Mandi Rehn
Elementary Principal of the Year Principal, Opportunity Elementary Central Valley SD
Dr. Mandi Rehn clearly knows how to multi-task — and challenge herself.

Opportunity Elementary principal in the Central Valley School District recently completed her superintendent’s certificate with Ph. D. – but that’s not all. She did this while guiding the school and staff through both a school relocation and extensive renovation, nine school moves and a phased construction, all while she successfully hired 17 new teachers for 15 new classrooms.
And now, she’s navigating the pandemic.
Perhaps that’s why Dr. Rehn was nominated by her staff and selected as the 2020 Elementary Principal of the Year.
In her nomination, Norman notes that Rehn, a 13-year veteran principal. is not only an excellent leader of children, but also of adults. She has the unique ability to understand the differences between individuals and respond accordingly, Norman said.
Rehn works every day to ensure that all staff, students, and families feel included and involved in a positive way. This has created a culture where staff feel comfortable approaching her with questions or concerns, no matter how big or small the challenge. It is this leadership model that continues to resonate with staff, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis.
There is no stronger advocate for meeting the needs of all children than Dr. Rehn and her commitment to ‘find a way’ has strengthened the Opportunity school community and the Central Valley School District.
“When COVID first started and we were sent home on a Friday afternoon — we got the news would not be coming back. For example, we shut down to leave, she told us that when you can come in, get what you think you need to teach form home — think about furniture and how much space you might need to teach, said Norman. “Last spring, even before anything was decided, we all came in and reorganized our classrooms. She had us starting to plan for what it might look like when we came back. And when we did come back this fall, our classrooms were all set up and there was a lot less scrambling — just more fine tuning.”
When asked to name three big accomplishments as principal, Rehn didn’t list awards or achievements, but rather told three stories about developing students, supporting a staff member through an extremely difficult time, and a five-year success story from a pair of students coming from dire circumstances. It’s the focus on relationships that defines Rehn as a leader and one of many reasons she is this year’s Elementary Principal of the Year.
“Dr. Mandi Rehn is truly a lifelong learner who continually challenges herself to improve. She is passionate about supporting, encouraging, and championing the students, staff, and families of Opportunity Elementary,” said Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small. “There is no stronger advocate for meeting the needs of all children than Dr. Rehn and her commitment to ‘find a way’ has strengthened the Opportunity school community and the Central Valley School District.”
Rehn also understand how important it is to build and maintain relationships with the families at her school. She arranges for the food bank to be at each family night and has worked to bring all community partners into the school to help meet ongoing needs. In one instance, Rehn secured a community donation of $50,000 for additional technology in the school as well as managing a high- poverty LAP budget of over $150,000 in implementation of interventions for students struggling in reading and math.
The result, according to Norman, is a culture where employees and children wanted to come to work every day. And where teachers like Kathryn Norman aspire to become principals themselves one day, thanks to encouragement from Mandi Rehn.
“I think one of the biggest things that stands out to all of us that work with her is that she is very team oriented,” said Norman. “At our school, we frequently talk about how it’s not just my kid, it’s our kid. We take care of the students’ every need – socially, emotionally, academically.
Our team culture has been a really impactful part of learning from her.”
Mandi Rehn and the other AWSP Principals of the Year will be honored for their accomplishments at the June 2021 WASA/AWSP Summer Conference.
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Washington Principal | Volume 2 – 2020-21