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home : schools and education : schools August 19, 2014

1/17/2013 9:01:00 AM
Manson's Vanderholm chosen principal of the year
Michelle Lovato
Staff Writer

When the Washington Association of Secondary Schools chooses a Principal of the Year, their decision is not made lightly. The person selected must be a leader of great character; someone who inspires his students and staff to achieve something beyond their perceived reach - something foundational and life changing.

The association chose Don Vanderholm, principal of Manson Middle/High School the 2013-14 Principal of the Year.

"He truly believes that all students can learn. Don goes about his work quietly; he never looks for praise or accolades," Chelan High School Principal Barry DePaoli said. "He is highly respected by our CTL Principal's Alliance and the community he serves in Manson."

DePaoli nominated Vanderholm for the award.

"He is a tremendous advocate for all students in his charge," DePaoli said. "Don has lead the work in developing intervention plans to support student success at Manson High School."

Manson High School Senior Jesse Russell said Vanderholm is a proponent of hard work.

"Mr. Vanderholm lets us know that we can achieve at Manson through hard work," Russell said. "It is good to know that we will get what we deserve when we try our best. This inspires us to work harder when our rewards are earned and not entitlements."

Vanderholm also makes it a daily habit to stand in the halls and interact with students.

"When I come to school I always look forward to seeing Mr. Vanderholm because he makes school a safe environment to learn," said Senior, Ana Aguilar. "Whenever I am having a bad day and I say, 'hello' to Mr. Vanderholm. His cheery response always cheers me up."

Aguilar said she respects the way her principal leads.

"The way he handles students with discipline and authority motivates me to learn, to want to follow his example and be the best I can for my future, Aguilar said. "Mr. Vanderholm encourages and inspires me to do my best because he's just an ordinary person who happens to understand his students more than most adults."

Vanderholm still has kids in Manson schools.

"Not only does he have kids of his own attending school here but he makes each student feel unique and important," Aguilar said.

Senior Jessica Gallaher knows Vanderholm genuinely cares for his students.

"Mr. Vanderholm always says hello to us in the hallways and makes a point of walking around checking up on his students," said Gallaher. "He asks me and others about what's going on in our lives. Mr. Vanderholm genuinely cares about us and how well we are doing in school. Mr.
Vanderholm is very good at letting us know how important school is and how rewarding an education can be. He sits in on our senior meetings and let's us know how we can better ourselves individually and as a class."

Manson Superintendent Matt Charlton said Vanderholm exemplifies the leadership qualities that make a Principal of the Year.

"Mr. Vanderholm leads a wonderful group of teachers and staff members who believe in a student by student whatever-it-takes approach to help each experience success," Manson School District Superintendent Matt Charlton said. "Mr. Vanderholm provides a steady hand and sense of direction, often behind the scenes, to our Manson Middle/High School staff in their work with students."

The Washington Association of Secondary School Principals' leadership rubric lists seven qualities they search for: Someone who is willing think out of the box in order to improve student learning; anticipates and resolves emerging problems; is a mentor and example of his goals; works closely with staff; involves the community with school; is creative and imaginative to bring positive change.
Vanderholm worked at Manson Middle/High School for the past six years and was previously a teacher at Mary Walker School District near Spokane.

The Washington Association of Secondary School Principals will honor Mr. Vanderholm at its annual conference to be held in October of 2013. He will also be entered to compete for the Washington State 2013-14 High School Principal of the Year.

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