Compassionate, learner-centered, student achievement-oriented, and data-driven—these are some of the words used to describe the 2018 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year. Erica Page, in her sixth year as an assistant principal at Pelion High School, in Pelion, SC, has been selected for this year’s honor.
There are four keys that drive Page’s work toward results: communication, trust, commitment, and teamwork. Using these drivers, Page has led efforts to boost promotion rates; test scores; and college and career readiness through dual enrollment coursework, AP classes, and increased honors offerings. Under her leadership, the school catapulted from zero dual credit hours to 468. This year, one-third of Pelion’s seniors will graduate with college credit and several will enter college as sophomores. Promotion rates, meanwhile, have increased 7 percent since 2013.
Committed to elevating opportunity for students in her rural blue-collar community where the poverty index exceeds 65 percent, she envisions a middle college model “so our seniors may graduate with a diploma and associate degree. This opportunity will create another path for success and will have a positive impact on our community.”
She chairs Pelion’s data team, which this year “triangulated qualitative and quantitative schoolwide data to uncover inequities to increase student achievement.” She says, “After identifying our learner-centered problem and problem of practice, we developed a theory of action to pair our most ‘at-risk’ freshmen with mentors and enroll them in our Pride Promotion program to build relationships, create accountability, and increase ownership of learning. Pride Promotion mentors are academic and behavior coaches, who lead restorative conferences.”
Page goes on to explain, “Our restorative conferences are an innovative approach to discipline. We find out what happened, then create a plan to make it right instead of applying the traditional, punitive method that focuses on the broken rule, the rule breaker, and the consequence. Using this ‘time in’ instead of ‘time out’ philosophy gives our students a framework to share their perspective. … As the team reviewed our last six-week cycle, I was overjoyed that more than half of our Pride Promotion students were passing all classes, and two students have all A’s and B’s.”
She relishes opportunities to combine work and play. As her community recognized its “One Hundred Year Celebration of Pelion Area Schools,” Page enjoyed the 100th day of the 100th year. On that day, she explained that they “delivered MoonPies to each class; shared our story and the 100-year story of the MoonPie, Duke’s Mayonnaise, and the Smith-Hughes [Vocational Education] Act. Our students loved it! Together, we had a blast, and we made history!”
Attributing her success to inspiration from her own eighth grade teacher, she asserts “every administrative decision I make comes from believing in students and putting them first.” Her commitment gets attention. As her principal Bryan Hearn describes, “Ms. Page’s values, beliefs, and attitudes are evidenced by her high expectations for students, faculty, and staff. Her contagious ‘all in for all students’ attitude echoes through the building.”
The NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year program annually recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have succeeded in providing high quality learning opportunities for students. Each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity, and the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools may select one assistant principal to represent their state. From these state winners, three finalists are named with one chosen as the NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year.