Anasazi Elementary School Principal Jennifer Waldron thought the first day back to work following a summer-beginning holiday weekend would be a quiet one.
She was wrong.
Ms. Waldron learned on May 22 the Arizona School Administrators named her elementary principal Rookie of the Year for the 2019-20 school year. Scottsdale Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Dr. Ibi Haghighat joined her on May 26 to admire the celebratory directions that appeared in her office.
That’s when Dr. Haghighat instructed Ms. Waldron to accompany her to the front of the school, where a caravan of at least 40 festooned staff and parent vehicles awaited.
The surprise parade began greeting her arrival with horns honking, costumed figures emerging from sun roofs of parked cars and passengers and drivers cheering, according to a press release.
Ms. Waldron says both the ASA Rookie of the Year award and the parade, which Anasazi Assistant Principal Andrea Martin organized, were a complete shock, but a pleasant one that she is happy to share with the Anasazi community.
“I go to Anasazi every day with the intent of serving the students, staff and community, so this honor isn’t just mine, but all of ours,” she said in a prepared statement.
“I am so proud of the culture of learning that helps define our school and the great lengths we have come this past school year in our International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme candidacy.”
Anasazi became an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme candidate school last summer. IB is an internationally recognized pre-kindergarten through high school curriculum framework that encourages students to become globally minded critical and creative thinkers.
When Anasazi becomes an IB World School, it will complete the IB learning track in SUSD’s Desert Mountain Learning Community. Nearby Mountainside Middle School, a candidate school for IB’s Middle Years Programme, is the default middle school for Anasazi’s students and Desert Mountain High School, which has offered the IB Diploma Programme since 1999, is the default high school for Anasazi students.
It was Dr. Haghighat, to whom Ms. Waldron reports, who nominated her for the ASA award. The award not only celebrates quality in school leadership, but is also a recognition of the professional appreciation and respect peers have for award winners.
“Ms. Waldron has worked so hard to achieve so much, earning the trust and respect of her students, staff, parents and community,” Dr. Haghighat said in a prepared statement.
“She has raised academic expectations through the school’s IB pre-candidacy, while providing the needed support to all. Ms. Waldron is a strong communicator and empowers, motivates and inspires others to do their best.”
Desert Mountain Principal Dr. Lisa Hirsch agrees Ms. Waldron is a deserving recipient of the ASA award.
“I find her motivating, creative, and always thinking out-of-the-box,” she said in a prepared statement. “You can tell when you set foot on the Anasazi campus that the atmosphere is cohesive and inspiring, by design.”
Mountainside Middle School Principal Adam Kohnen concurs, heaping on further compliments of Ms. Waldron’s work at Anasazi.
“Jen is one of the hardest-working, dedicated and driven principals I know, and always keeps in mind what is best for her school, staff and, above all, her students. Anasazi is extremely lucky she is their leader,” he said in a prepared statement.
Ms. Waldron, who says she hasn’t stopped smiling since the parade passed by, will receive formal recognition from the ASA in a virtual program on June 15.
“The outpouring of love was a wonderful way to close the 2019-2020 school year,” Ms. Waldron said.