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Meet Amador Elementary School’s First Principal Holly Scroggins – Managing Growth and High Expectations

December 4, 2014
Holly Scroggins

Amador Principal Holly Scroggins

DUBLIN, CA — Dublin’s newest elementary school, Amador Elementary School, is set to open for the 2015-16 school year with a new principal. Before sharing our interview with Principal Holly Scroggins, let’s take a look back at her first tour of principal duty with the Dublin Unified School District.

The year was 2007. Among the existing elementary schools in the DUSD, Frederiksen Elementary School had just completed a very tough year. In the wake of its long tenured Principal taking a position to mentor new school administrators in Sacramento, the site went through not one, but two Principals in a single academic year. The site was in flux, parents were confused and staff morale was very low. It was a scenario that could potentially spiral out of control. In fairness, Fred’s Academic Performance Index (API) for baseline in 2007 was 839 – an acceptable level above the state mandated number of 800. However, this site was a Title I school and also supported a somewhat transient student population that poured in from Camp Parks RFTA. In essence, Frederiksen represented one of the most challenging elementary schools to manage in the district. All throughout this time, brand new communities were being constructed in the previously untouched Eastern Dublin region. However, by 2013, the API Growth Rate achieved at Fred climbed to 904 in the last year that API scores were published by the CA Department of Education.

The District responded to the unsettled matter by constructing a task force that included school community involvement in order to identify a leader that could help to right the ship. Emerging from this process was an experienced classroom teacher and administrator in Ms. Holly Scroggins. Holly came to DUSD from the New Haven School District (South Hayward and Union City) after completing a Masters Degree from California State University, East Bay. She is credentialed in Reading/Language Arts, Administrative Services and has served as a Science Specialist. These accomplishments occurred over a span of 22 years.

Frederiksen Elementary SchoolFor the past eight years, Ms. Scroggins has helped to reshape the landscape at Frederiksen. Site stability was restored. Part of this was incorporating the District’s desire to inject collaboration into the annual calendar, incorporating the principles of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) and the new adoption of Common Core Standards. Further, she wanted to introduce the concept of “looping” which would prepare certificated staff to effectively manage students up and down from multiple grade levels. From a parental perspective, the PFC and the SSC organizations were reinvigorated and responded to an environment that welcomed family input. As a site that was constructed in the mid 1960’s, it has also received the benefits from the community supported Measure C which gave the school a much needed facelift/re-engineering over the past five years.

With all of these accomplishments deposited into her portfolio, what is left to do? The plans for a new elementary school located near the Positano development have been on the Facilities Department docket for well over five years. Previously referred to as “E-4”, the project broke ground in 2013. The rapid development in Dublin Ranch and parts eastward prompted the need for a fourth elementary school to house incoming students. E-4 has since been named Amador Elementary School and it is slated to open in August 2015. As with any public process, candidates seeking to lead this new school were solicited, screened and interviewed. In November, Holly Scroggins was appointed by the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees as the Founding Principal of Amador Elementary School. OneDublin.org recently had the opportunity to visit with Ms. Scroggins to discuss the significance of this career event and to explore some of her aspirations for the newest school in DUSD.

OneDublin.org: During our conversation, you had mentioned that in a career, very few school administrators are gifted with the opportunity open a new school site.  Please share what this opportunity means to you.

Holly Scroggins: “It is such an honor to be selected to be the founding principal of a new school.  I believe that less than 1% of administrators in public education get this opportunity. It is quite the honor.  I look forward to working with the Amador community and Dublin Unified staff in creating the best school ever.  I hope to exemplify and work towards the vision that all students have excellence in them; challenging all students to achieve high levels of success!”

OneDublin.org: Over the past eight years, you have led the turnaround at Frederiksen Elementary School.  This is relative to both increased academic achievement and rapid enrollment growth.  Given the track record for academic excellence at Dougherty, Green and Kolb, what are your expectations for performance at Amador?

Scroggins: “I expect it to be the highest in the district.  If it isn’t the first year, we’ll work together as a team to make sure it is in future years.  I believe in this new community and I’m excited about its potential.”

OneDublin.org: While it is not solely up to a new Principal, the opportunity exists to create a new “culture” at Amador Elementary School.  This culture encompasses everything from the way that drop off/pick-up is managed to creating new traditions and to how the PFC and volunteerism will be developed.  Please comment upon these items.

Scroggins: “I think that the opening of a new school and communication all the procedures and processes that we need to follow to ensure that we keep safe will be the first steps that I will ensure are in place. The next steps will be the creation of traditions.  I will listen to the staff and community on this.  Traditions support schools in being welcoming and fun.  I’ve already been approached by a few families that are ready to roll up their sleeves and support the work that it will take to ensure that Amador Elementary has a thriving new “culture.”  We will do this together as a team with the staff.”

OneDublin.org: The Amador site will stand as unique against the architectural formats found at the other six elementary schools.  There will be a two story learning structure that will house upper grade level students on the 2nd floor.  Might this be a challenge or an opportunity?  Please explain.

Scroggins: “I see this as a great opportunity.  We have so much more space to use with buildings that have a 2nd floor.  Students will have more space to play and move.  We will have more space for outdoor learning opportunities.  Our buildings have more space between them to offer better flow of students during transitions like recess and lunches.  The new building spaces are cutting edge with the best of planning around technology that will offer and support innovative practices. I see great educational opportunity in this new building design.  It’s all about supporting student collaboration and independence and within their own learning.”

OneDublin.org: Your actual appointment as Principal will commence on January 5, 2015.  At this point, scores of things will need to be accomplished.  Kindly share some of the highest priorities that you’ll take on in the next 3-6 months.

Scroggins: “This list is too vast.  Staffing the school, meeting the community, and ensuring that all furniture/materials are ready for student learning will be my priorities.”

OneDublin.org:  As you draw upon all of your previous experiences in the teaching industry, what beliefs and/or philosophies do you hope to fertilize at Amador?

Scroggins: “This is a huge question, one I could go on for days.  Highlights might be:  I plan to build a shared vision with the staff and community.  I will be present around the school and in classrooms to ensure safety and the smooth running of our school.  I am collaborative and want to solve problems where student learning is at the heart.  I have an “Open Door” policy so I want parents to feel comfortable in sharing their concerns with me so that we can work together to find solutions for them.  I will offer consistency in programs and routines so it will be known that you can count on me. I am reflective, so if changes need to occur over time they will, only after communication about the changes of how we can improve things.

“I’m looking forward to working with a staff that is compassionate, innovative, rigorous, and teach using best practices that are research sound and effective.  I will celebrate big and small accomplishments often for I know great things will be happening at Amador.  I believe that all students can learn and that Amador will be a model school for them to do so in!”

So, in a mere nine months from now, Holly Scroggins will move from an elementary site that was constructed in the mid-1960’s and will then take the reins of a state-of-the-art facility that has capacity for over 900 students. In some ways, this represents the full arc of an educator’s career – capped with the opportunity to become a founding Principal. OneDublin.org would like to congratulate Holly Scroggins on this appointment and we wish her a successful opening of the new Amador Elementary School site in 2015.

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