2 Yuma principals finalists in program

Two principals in Yuma were recently named finalists in the 2014 Exemplary Principal program by the Rodel Foundation of Arizona.

Donna Franklin, principal of Ron Watson Middle School, and Laurie Doering, principal of Crane Middle School, made the cut as two of 13 principals in Arizona to be named finalists, selected from a group of 22 semifinalists.

Nominated by their district’s superintendent, the finalists were selected after a rigorous process which includes undergoing an interview, and staff and teacher interviews along with a campus visit and an assessment of their school’s data.

“These finalists from high-need schools have been selected for their demonstrated ability to inspire their staff to contribute to school-wide success and the development of a campus that is high achieving, safe, orderly and welcoming,” stated the foundation.

From these 13 finalists, seven will ultimately be selected in January as 2014 Rodel Exemplary principals. In addition to the two finalists from Yuma, there were five finalists from Phoenix, one from Chandler, one from Mesa, one from Tucson, one from Casa Grande, one from Goodyear and one from Buckeye.

In response to being one of the few to be named a finalist Franklin said, “It’s a great honor, you think about all the principals around the state and all the great things they’re doing, and to end up being nominated and being a finalist as well is just truly a wonderful honor.”

She noted that she owes the recognition to the hard work that the teachers and students on her campus are committed to.

“They worked really hard and came together as a team and really showed some phenomenal growth in our AIMS scores, that’s due to the teachers and the students,” she said.

While she won’t know for a few weeks whether or not she will be named an Exemplary Principal, she said that either way she will be working with aspiring principals to mentor them and share her knowledge.

Franklin has had 25 years of experience in education, 11 of those years as an elementary classroom teacher, five years as an elementary assistant principal and 10 years as a middle school principal.

When asked how she felt to also be named a finalist, Doering said, “Actually, it’s a very humbling experience and I feel like it’s really not me receiving it, it’s representing my school, the district and Yuma County.”

She said that even though she is the face and name behind the recognition, it’s a collaborative effort – as the Rodel Foundation of Arizona not only evaluated her as a principal, but also looked at school data and interviewed teachers and staff members and toured the campus.

“I love my job,” she shared. “Some people go to work and it’s a job. I go to work and I have passion for what I do and I feel so blessed to be able to work with such great people and to be able to impact kids the way that we do.”

Doering has had 31 years of experience in education, 12 of those years as a teacher, two years as a professional development coach, four years as an assistant principal, eight years as an elementary principal and five years as a middle school principal.

The goal of the Rodel Exemplary Principal initiative is to recognize the successes of Arizona’s most exceptional principals who will then mentor and train three Aspiring Principals over a two-year period. Aspiring principals, who could range from a teacher to an assistant principal, are recruited by Rodel after undergoing an extensive application and interview process and begin recommended by a principal or superintendent.

In addition to other partners around the state, local supporters of the foundation include the Yuma County School Superintendent’s Office and the Yuma Community Foundation.

Visit www.rodelaz.org for more information about the program.

Sarah Womer can be reached at swomer@yumasun.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.