Northern Arizona University alumni continue to top the list of the Rodel Exemplary Principal awards for 2015, with five of the eight principals having earned degrees or certificates from the university.

The Rodel Exemplary Principal Initiative recognizes principals in high-need schools where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. Finalists were selected from Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties. The winners each receive a $1,500 savings bond and commit to mentoring aspiring principals for the next two years. 

Rodel selected the winners from 16 finalists who are recognized for their exceptional management abilities and for fostering a welcoming, safe learning environment focused on student achievement. Nine of the 16 finalists earned a degree or certification from NAU.

“At Northern Arizona University, we take a lot of pride in our roots as a teacher’s college,” said President Rita Cheng. “We share the passion of these principals for supporting teachers and educating their students. The dedication of these talented educators improves the lives of young people, their families and their communities.”

Exemplary Principal Amy Uchacz gave credit for the award to her dedicated teaching staff and the education she received at Northern Arizona University. “NAU is unique and hands down the best education I could have received. My classes were small, we had access to our professors, and every teacher I had was invested in making sure we were ready to go do the hard work in the classroom,” Uchacz said.  

Listed below are the 2015 Rodel Exemplary Principals, degree or certificate earned from NAU, the school they currently lead and the city in which it is located:

   Alicia Alvarez, master’s in educational leadership, Alta Vista Charter High School, Alta Vista

   Connie Jerpseth, master’s in educational leadership and a principal certification, Mesquite Elementary School, Yuma

   Lisa Sandomir, master’s in secondary education and administrative certification, Maurice C. Cash Elementary School, Laveen  

   Christine Sullivan, master’s in educational leadership and administrative certification, La Cima Middle School, Tucson

   Amy Uchacz, bachelor’s in elementary education and early childhood development, master’s in counseling and human relations, and a master’s in educational leadership, Pima Elementary School, Scottsdale

Additional finalist principals are:

   Cristela Cardenas, bachelor’s in elementary education, master’s in educational leadership, Gallego Basic Elementary School, Tucson

    Brenda Catlett, master’s in educational leadership, Arizona Desert Elementary School, Tolleson

   Joanne Pike, administrative certificate and working on superintendent certificate, Copper Basin School, San Tan Valley

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