Madam Speaker, I rise today to ask the House of Representatives to join me in honoring Annie Orsini, Assistant Principal at Westridge Elementary School and Jordan Creek Elementary School in West Des Moines, as Iowan of the Week.
Assistant Principals across Iowa’s Third Congressional District and our entire country play a critically important role in the overall success of the schools where they serve – working tirelessly to foster strong relationships between the school and the community, establish a positive and inclusive learning environment for students, make sure parents are informed and involved, effectively lead both instructional and support staff, monitor the day-to-day logistical operations of their educational facilities, and more. An Assistant Principal’s plate is always full, always being added to, and often includes a plethora of ‘other duties as assigned’ tasks to complete. Our schools, students, and communities all benefit from their dedication to making a positive impact on early education.
In Annie’s case, her efforts are doubled as she serves as Assistant Principal for two elementary schools. With roughly 1,500 students and families and approximately 125 instructional and support staff under her care, she has a big job to tackle every single week. Whether it’s mentoring teachers, analyzing data to create impactful plans, addressing logistical and operational issues such as transportation and scheduling, working on extra- and co-curricular programs, or nurturing positive peer relationships between students, her days are filled with meeting the needs of others. She sets the vision, inspires others, maximizes available resources, and constantly innovates in order to create an optimal learning environment for students and staff.
Annie is an educator who truly believes not only in the power of teaching and empowering kids to learn, but also in the very real impact effective teaching has on the system as a whole. Her efforts extend beyond improving more traditional classroom instruction of subjects like math, English, and history to include social emotional learning and addressing mental health. She’s working with staff on efforts that help kids get organized, show empathy, make decisions, see other people’s perspective, and more. In being more intentional about nurturing both the head and the heart, Annie is creating environments in which students can feel safe, special, and develop their unique gifts before striking out into the world.
Throughout the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed incredible burdens on many areas of our society, and few places have been as directly challenged as our schools. Originally planned for implementation over three years, Annie and her team had to roll out a scaled-up online learning program in only six months. They had to figure out how to get kids to school safely and keep them safe while they were in the classroom, and neither challenge came with a playbook. Time and again, Assistant Principals like Annie have been called upon to work even harder than usual to best support students, educators, support staff, families, and their communities as everyone navigates the global health crisis.
For that reason amongst others, I am proud to support a House Resolution calling for April 5th-9th to be recognized as National Assistant Principals Week. These folks deserve our thanks and this opportunity for all Americans to reflect on their meaningful contributions to our communities.
For nearly two decades, Annie Orsini has dedicated herself to furthering the growth and achievement of young students, teachers, and local schools. Her passion is clear and inspiring. Each day she makes a difference, and our future is brighter because of her efforts. I am proud to recognize her as our Iowan of the Week.