The Rodel Foundation has named its exemplary principals and five of the eight winners received degrees from Northern Arizona University. Of the 16 finalists, 10 earned NAU degrees.

The Rodel Exemplary Principal Initiative recognizes outstanding school principals and provides mentorship opportunities for school leaders in Arizona’s high-needs communities.

A new partnership between NAU and the Rodel Foundation allowed for expansion of the Rodel Principal Initiative to include Coconino County, adding to the list of candidates from Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Yuma counties. Both Flagstaff finalists won the top award.

“I’ve received all my degrees from NAU and the classes were taught by well-respected professors and professionals who guided and mentored me,” said Frank Garcia, a Rodel Exemplary Principal from Thomas Elementary in Flagstaff.

Fellow winner Stacie Zanzucchi, principal of Coconino High School, said the beautiful campus won her heart first, followed by the faculty. “NAU has played a significant role in my life and I am grateful to my professors who took a genuine interest in my success and served as mentors in and out of the classroom,” Zanzucchi said.

These are this year’s Rodel Foundation Exemplary Principals along with their NAU degrees, their schools and their cities.

  • Frank Armenta, principal certification and superintendent certification, Cholla High Magnet School, Tucson
  • Shannon Bonnette, master’s in educational leadership, Richard E. Miller School, Phoenix
  • Karie Burns, master’s in educational leadership, Surprise Elementary School, Surprise
  • Frank Garcia, bachelor of science in elementary education, master’s in school counseling, principal certification and superintendent certification, Thomas Elementary School, Flagstaff
  • Chad Miller, master’s in educational leadership and administration certificate, Homer Davis Elementary School, Tucson
  • Stacie Zanzucchi, bachelor of science in education and master’s of bilingual multi-cultural education, Coconino High School, Flagstaff
Frank Garcia

Thomas Elementary Principal Frank Garcia.

Four finalists also earned degrees from NAU:

  • Kathryn Mullery, master’s in educational leadership and principal certificate, Connolly Middle School, Tempe
  • Gregory Reid master’s in education, Entz Elementary School, Mesa
  • Daniel Schulter, master’s in educational leadership, Ida Flood Dodge Traditional Middle Magnet School, Tucson
  • Michele Wilson, master’s in educational leadership, West View High School, Tolleson

“NAU’s strong educational leadership programs prepare highly competent professionals committed to making a difference in the lives of our children and our schools,” said Ramona Mellott, dean of NAU’s College of Education. Research shows strong school leadership affects student achievement, Mellott added.

Each year, significant numbers of NAU graduates are recognized by the Rodel Foundation as exemplary teachers and principals.