By Kristan Krogman
Kendra Becker, principal at White River Middle School has been named Region VI Middle School Principal of the Year by the South Dakota Association of Secondary School Principals. Miss Becker received the award at the SDASSP and SDAESP (elementary) joint conference, held January 22-24.
Miss Becker has been principal at WRMS since 2009 and prior to that spent a period of five years working in the White River School District as a teacher.
A big focus in the middle school at present is increasing reading and writing in all classrooms.
“We’ve used Study Island online programs for the last couple of years” Miss Becker commented, “but now we’ve increased implementation of this program into the English language arts programs.”
The online programs are written to help prepare students for the new Smarter Balance testing mandated by the state of South Dakota. Miss Becker says they are supplemental to what teachers are teaching in their classrooms and based on local assessments, students have benefited with gains in learning since the beginning of the school year.
WRMS also employs the ICU program which helps students identify which assignments they have not completed and gives them time to complete their assignments at school.
In addition says Miss Becker, “our students are taking two math classes and two reading/language arts classes per day in an effort to prepare students for a successful high school experience. If we can keep our students on track at the middle level, we feel we’ve helped White River’s graduation rate that much more.”
Through a number of different avenues, Miss Becker has brought a focus, not only to the students, but to families and teachers as well. Every year, the middle school has a theme, this year’s “Whatever it Takes: Think, Learn and Communicate”. One of this year’s goals is to increase communication home to parents and families.
Another focus is on the teachers. “This year and next my emphasis will be to build our teacher’s professional development opportunities,” said Miss Becker. “It is so important to make sure our teachers are getting a chance to enhance their classroom skills so they are able to reach the 21st century learner.”
Miss Becker is also involved outside the walls of WRMS. She is a member of the local PTO Boosters club and serves as the Region VI Principal’s representative, as well as an executive board member of the NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals). She holds monthly regional meetings with Principals covering various topics.
Miss Becker was nominated for the Middle School Principal of the Year by colleagues from Region VI. The Elementary Association also nominated Miss Becker for Instructional Leader of the Year.