Highland Middle School Principal Anissa Bereano, a 2004 graduate of the University of Washington's Danforth Educational Leadership Program, has been named 2015 Washington State Middle Level Principal of the Year.
Bereano, a principal at the Title I school in the Bellevue School District since 2008, is the third consecutive Danforth graduate to win the award. Keisha Scarlett '08 won the Middle Level Principal of the Year award in 2014 and Kelly Aramaki '03 won the Elementary Level Principal of the Year award in 2013.
As principal, Bereano has worked with staff to build a culture of universal achievement at the school, which has a racially and economically diverse student population. Students have made significant academic gains during Bereano's tenure, narrowing — and in some cases closing — the achievement gap for Highland’s students of color. In addition to the academic gains, the school eliminated detentions and has seen a 71 percent reduction in suspensions.
"For the past 27 years, the Danforth Educational Leadership Program has been developing equity-driven, learning focused, collaborative leaders," said Ann O'Doherty, director of the Danforth program. "Our graduates demonstrate their commitment to high quality education outcomes for each and every child, each and every day."
Since 2006, seven Washington school administrators who have gone through UW's Danforth and Leadership for Learning (L4L) programs have been selected as a Washington State Principal of the Year.
When she arrived at Highland, Bereano was the third principal in three years, the school was in its first year of Adequate Yearly Progress sanctions, and staff morale and community pride in the school were low. At the time, 56 percent of the students passed the state's math Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and 67 percent passed in reading. On the 2014 MSP, the passage rate for math was 70 percent and reading was 82 percent. Eighth grade Hispanic students were the highest performing sub-group on the reading MSP with a 92 percent passage rate. In addition, Highland’s organizational health data is strong because of high staff interdependence, collegiality and shared leadership.
“There was no quick fix for Highland’s improvement, but through shared leadership, building capacity, and a collective vision, we have been able to make great strides,” Bereano said. “While we have not yet achieved our ultimate goal, the Highland staff knows it’s possible and we are more committed than ever.”
Bereano is now eligible for the 2015 National Middle Level Principal of the Year award, sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications