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Georgia Assistant Principal Named National Assistant Principal of the Year

Reston, VA – Jessica Ainsworth, assistant principal at Lithia Springs High School in Lithia Springs, GA, has been named the 2015 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year. The announcement was made today at a surprise assembly at her school, attended by dignitaries including State Superintendent Richard Woods.

Facing some of the lowest student achievement scores and graduation rates in the state of Georgia, Ainsworth was charged with implementing a federal School Improvement Grant to turn around a struggling culture and climate at Lithia Springs High School. She did this by instituting The MANE Thing, a six-pronged initiative that reflects a clear purpose and vision for academic success. Ainsworth involved all stakeholders in the emphasis on classroom instruction, intervention programs, assessment and performance data analysis, attendance, behavior and supervision, and parent engagement. Her efforts have led to consistent increases in reading scores across all subgroups, most notably a tripling of the reading proficiency rate among students with disabilities from 27 percent to 83 percent. Success is also evident in increases in the graduation rate, job placements, and college acceptances. Despite a focus on achievement data, Ainsworth values the students behind the numbers and maintains strong relationships with stakeholders. Students describe Ainsworth, previously named the 2015 Georgia Assistant Principal of the Year, as approachable and teachers value the professional development opportunities she regularly creates for them.

“The assistant principal has many critical roles to play as a school leader,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, NASSP executive director. “Jessica is a model of an excellent school leader who goes beyond the traditional roles of handling discipline and data and has become an expert in curriculum and instruction. NASSP is delighted to honor Jessica for the significant positive impact she has had on the students of Lithia Springs High School."

"We are so very proud of all that Ms. Ainsworth has done for the students, staff and community of Lithia Springs High School. She has a servant's heart and has been an integral part of the wonderful accomplishments by all of those associated with the school," said Douglas County Schools Superintendent Gordon Pritz.

"Jessica is an outstanding assistant. Her dedication and professionalism are characteristics that set her apart from many. In addition, her depth of knowledge is an asset in her work with curriculum and instruction in the building. It has truly been a pleasure to help shape and witness her development over the past three years." said Lithia Springs High School Principal Garrick Askew.

NASSP annually honors an assistant principal from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. All state winners were honored at a three-day event in Washington, D.C., in April, where they networked and met with legislators on Capitol Hill. Selection criteria for the national award are built around collaborative leadership; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and school personalization—the core areas of the NASSP Breaking Ranks Framework. Three finalists were selected from the pool of state winners and were interviewed during the April event in Washington, DC. Each finalist received $500 and Ainsworth will be awarded an additional $500, which can be used for personal professional development or for a school improvement project.

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