Pasco principal in running for national honor

Tri-City HeraldFebruary 27, 2014 

— The principal of Mark Twain Elementary School in Pasco is one of three candidates for a national principal’s award set to be awarded in March.

Evaluators from the Elementary School Principals Association of Washington recently visited Mark Twain to observe Valerie Aragon. They also talked with teachers, parents, students and other administrators as they consider her for the National Distinguished Principal award, said a release from the Pasco School District.

The evaluators visit was a good experience, Aragon said, adding she was grateful to those who spoke about her work.

“I don’t think I’m any different from any other principal,” she said.

The association selected her as 2014 Elementary Principal of the Year for Southeast Washington in December. Now Aragon is being considered for the state’s Elementary Principal of the Year, which entitles her to the national recognition. The national award is given out in cooperation with a national principal's association and the U.S. Department of Education.

Aragon has been at Mark Twain for three years, having previously been an administrator at Whittier Elementary School and Stevens Middle School. She's been in the district since 1996, starting as a special education teacher before working her way into administration.

“It has been such a pleasure to watch Valerie grow her talents and skills over the years. We are all so proud of her — not just because of this award, but because of the results she is able to gain in each school she leads,” Superintendent Saundra Hill said in a statement. “Valerie is a masterful in her ability to lead others towards a common goal of increased student achievement and she has proven results.”

The principal said she always wanted to be a teacher because of those who taught her as a child. She said it was difficult to leave the classroom to become an administrator but that the improvements in student performance she’s seen at Whittier and Mark Twain show it was worth it.

“I really truly believe I can make a difference for children,” Aragon said.

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