GSE alumna named 2012 Oregon Elementary Principal of the Year

Lizi Aguilar-Nelson, IAL ’05, CAL ‘10, principal at Richmond Elementary School in Salem, has been awarded the top state honor for an elementary principal by the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) and the Oregon Elementary School Principals Association (OESPA). Ms. Aguilar-Nelson is a recent graduate of the PSU Initial Administrator Licensure program (Salem cohort), and recently completed the PSU Continuing Administrator Licensure program as well.

For eight years she has been at Salem-Keizer school district, the last five at Richmond where she had many challenges. Richmond is a Title I school with many children on free and reduced lunch. There are many languages represented and parent involvement has historically been dismal. Principal Aguilar-Nelson decided to involve parents and families in academics and started a Safe and Civil Schools program. She expanded bilingual instruction to grades 2-5 and implemented Professional Learning Communities for staff. The results were dramatic. Expectations increased and behavior improved. Test scores increased to the extent that the school is now Salem-Keizer’s top Title 1 building.

Ms. Aguilar-Nelson is widely lauded by Richmond parents who enthusiastically nominated her for the award, noting that their children are now better prepared for middle school.

As the Oregon Distinguished Principal, she is automatically entered in the national competition and traveled to Seaside in June to receive her state honor and then to Washington, DC, in October for the national recognition ceremony.

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