Movers and Shakers: Top administrators win awards for service

Principal Richardson conducts conflict resolution, focuses on inclusiveness in Tennessee; Principal Bruggenschmidt promotes safety with ARV-riding robot in Indiana; and Superintendent Blankenship takes on dual-district role in Illinois

In Tennessee’s Tipton County Schools, principal Varissa Richardson conducts conflict resolution for Munford Elementary School students using techniques she learned while simultaneously working in criminal justice and school counseling. Richardson, who was recently named Tennessee Principal of the Year, focuses on inclusiveness, connects with parents and members of the community through monthly meet and greets, and offers an open-door policy that encourages parents to speak with her at any time. 

Read: Movers and Shakers: Leaders oversee improvements in graduation rates, test scores

Principal Ashlee Bruggenschmidt of Warrick County School Corp. in Indiana has led Sharon Elementary as an exemplary or A grade-level school for nine of the past 10 years. She also founded the Play for Kate foundation, which has funded 10 scholarships for graduating high schoolers and advocated for an Indiana law that requires all-terrain vehicle riders under 18 to wear helmets. Play for Kate also developed an ATV-riding robot named Safety Sam that teaches kids about ATV safety. Bruggenschmidt is the recipient of the 2019 Indiana Elementary Principal of the Year award. 

Superintendent Kevin Blankenship of Scott-Morgan Community Unit School District No. 2 now leads a second district, Winchester CUSD No. 1, making him one of only two Illinois superintendents to take on a dual position. At Scott-Morgan, Blankenship overhauled the technology infrastructure, oversaw two school renovations, promoted a property tax referendum and encouraged professional development. For his efforts, the Illinois Association of School Administrators named Blankenship Superintendent of the Year.

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