Kofa High principal one of 10 honorees

After months of examination and research, representatives from the Rodel Foundation of Arizona announced today that Kofa High School principal Gina Thompson is one of 10 Exemplary Principals across the state.

As part of the 2012 Rodel Exemplary Principal Initiative, Thompson was one of 22 semifinalists who were narrowed down to 17 finalists and now 10 Exemplary Principals.

The other nine are six in Maricopa County, two in Tucson and one in Pinal County.

“The Rodel Exemplary Principals are selected for their demonstrated ability to lead high-need schools to success by inspiring their staffs to develop a campus that is high achieving, safe, orderly and welcoming. After learning from the best, Rodel Aspiring Principals are better prepared to lead their own high-need schools,” stated the foundation.

Yuma County School Superintendent Tom Tyree said Thompson will receive a $10,000 stipend to mentor other aspiring principals in Yuma for the next two years as part of the program.

“It’s an opportunity to grow our own and it develops people to be on the leadership track in the Yuma area,” Tyree said.

He explained that the position was funded through both the Yuma Community Foundation and the Yuma County superintendent’s office.

In her nomination for Thompson, Toni Badone, Yuma Union High School District superintendent, wrote: “Ms. Thompson has earned the respect of students, peers, staff, parents and the community by being trustworthy, keeping her promises, being fair and giving straight answers. She is the epitome of an Exemplary Principal who sets the bar highest for herself.”

Thompson said what she is most proud of at Kofa is the culture on the campus.

“The teaching staff values and demonstrates collaboration across cohorts and disciplines in solving problems such as how to embed technology into classroom experience each day,” she said. “Kofa High School demonstrates the art as well as science of teaching and learning.”

She said she was inspired by various educational leaders who encouraged her to become a teacher-leader during her very first year of teaching back in 1989.

“Those initial relationships and the value I felt in being included in campus leadership prompted me to pursue a master’s in educational leadership. That inspiration continued as our district leadership nurtured and encouraged learning and risk-taking. The influence of positive relationships has been my constant inspiration.”

Thompson has 22 years of experience in education, with seven years as a high school English teacher, seven years as an assistant principal and then as a high school principal.

She received her bachelor’s degree in English education/physical education from Eastern Washington University and her master’s in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University-Yuma.

For more information about the Exemplary Principal initiative, visit www.RodelAZ.org.