ACSA honors Smith, Christman

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

ACSA honors Smith, ChristmanLocal principals Kirsti Smith of Murray Middle School and Melissa Christman of Faller Elementary School were acknowledged for outstanding achievement in their respective categories for Region XI of Association of California School Administrators.

“This is a big deal,” said Mesquite High School Principal Joann McClelland. “Our region covers Kern, Inyo, Mono, Tulare and Kings counties, and these two won for that entire area.”

For the award, representatives of each charter within the region consider ASA involvement, district leadership and the major accomplishments of the schools each principal represents.

Christman’s nomination packet cites her success in education, passion for learning, high moral standards, compassion for all students, meaningful relationships with staff and families and overall attitude as reasons for deserving the award.

“Melissa Christman promotes the success of all students by facilitating the development, articulation, implementation and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community.”

Under Christman’s guidance, Faller has implemented numerous programs to enhance the educational experience of students — from facilitating greater access to technology to supporting supplemental educational opportunities to promoting positive behaviors in students.

“I was so honored to be recognized by my fellow administrators,” said Christman. She said that honoring the contributions of students, teachers, staff and parent volunteers is one of her favorite parts of her job. “So to be recognized myself was a humbling but rewarding experience.”

She said that she holds Faller’s selection as a Gold Ribbon School among her proudest accomplishments. “The staff, parents and I know how wonderful and successful Faller School is, but to have the state recognize us as well just solidified what we have known all along.”

She acknowledged ACSA for their contributions to school administrators. “ACSA is an amazing organization of extraordinary school leaders in California. They provide mentoring, professional development, networking and state advocacy.”

As with Christman, Smith’s peers compiled pages and pages of evidence that outline the many ways in which she goes above and beyond the call of duty to promote success in her school.

“Kirsti promotes the success of the students by utilizing all facets of the educational system,” states her application. “Through collaboration, the best plans and procedures are made, tried and refined to ensure student success academically and socially.”

Murray has intervention programs that allow students to increase their progress both academically and behaviorally.

Smith has been heavily involved in the relocation of Murray to a brand-new campus, and led the Murray team to Gold Ribbon status in 2014.

“I am most proud of the students and staff who work so hard to be the best they can be,” said Smith. “I believe our consistency in all aspects of the functions of the school allow the students the opportunity to have choices as they move through the various phases of life.”

She thanked the people she has worked with over the years who have invested in her. “It began with Ken Bergevin, who was my principal at Monroe, and continued with Bruce Auld who offered me my first principalship at Vieweg.

“Jody Rummer was a huge support during so much of my time at Murray, and now Ernie Bell is always a positive influence and a can-do kind of guy! I thank my husband, most importantly, because he makes dinner, pays the bills, and sets up any fun we have time for.

“It’s all a team effort, and so many have helped me along the way.”

“This kind of recognition doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, we want to celebrate it,” said Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent Ernie Bell. “I was thrilled to see our administrators honored this way.

“Both of these administrators have served our district for a long time — Kristi for 36 years and Melissa for 29 years. In addition to making a huge commitment of time, they have challenged and engaged their staffs and cultures in their school communities that allow students to thrive in some very tough times.

“There are so many responsibilities and so much work that happens behind the scenes to make schools effective, and I think the fact that they both come from award-winning schools reflects the exceptional leadership they demonstrate every day.”

Pictured: Murray Middle School Principal Kirsti Smith with ACSA?Region XI president David Bowling. -- Courtesy photos

Story First Published: 2017-05-12