Principal Debra Hawkins wins Administrator of the Year


WHS Staff congratulates Mrs. Hawkins for being awarded Administrator of the Year on March 1. Photo by ILAF ESUF


WHS Staff congratulates Mrs. Hawkins for being awarded Administrator of the Year on March 1. Photo by ILAF ESUF

“Her jaw dropped and her eyes got really wide. She smiled and then started crying as she walked up to receive her award,” assistant principal Mrs. Jennifer Hanks said. “At the same time, about 16 staff members came in cheering and clapping along with her husband and you could tell that she was thrilled.”

Principal Mrs. Debra Hawkins was honored as the Administrator of the Year on Feb. 25 by the the Association of California School Administrators

“She has been the principal of Whitney High School since we opened in 2005. She has been an amazing leader these past eight years and I felt that it was time that she be honored for the work and commitment she had made to this school,” Hanks said.

Hanks, along with other staff members, nominated Hawkins by writing letters and submitting applications to a panel of judges for the local chapter of the competition.

Once selected from Placer County, winners move forward to the second level, also known as region two which includes schools from Yolo County, Chico, El Dorardo, Tahoe and Truckee. Winners will be announced at a banquet later in March and will then move forward to the state level of the competition.

Although Hawkins received the same award once before in 2004 at Rocklin High School, she said she is thrilled to represent Whitney.

“We’ve spent the past eight years building Whitney to what we want it to be and I think we have a pretty good handle of what we want it to be, so it was really exciting to receive (this award) as the principal of Whitney High school,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins has been in for more than 34 years. Starting as an English teacher, teaching everything from remedial reading to AP Literature, Hawkins has served as a principal in this community for 14 years. Though she misses the classroom atmosphere, Hawkins said she still utilizes her skills as a teacher when organizing meetings with teachers.

“I teach now, I just teach differently,” Hawkins said. “Plan your meetings like it’s your best classroom and it’s going to work better instead of you trying to be the sage on the stage in front of the teachers.”

Hawkins said she puts students first.

“That’s probably the real downside of every step you take outside the classroom — assistant principal, principal, if you went to the district office — you get further and further away from the kids and that’s always been my problem with school administration is that I never really wanted to be further and further away from the kids,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said she hopes to make improvements to Whitney so students are more connected to the digital world they will become adults in.

“When you’ve been in education as long as I have, what you like about education is the fact that you can help make kids’ lives better. I think that the important thing is if you like education and you want to be in education, you will find  a way to be useful for kids in every role you take,” Hawkins said. “I want to still, in 10 years, when I’m probably gone from this place, for everyone to still be looking at Whitney as a place that first of all cares about kids and along with that provides the best education that they can get.”

Although Hawkins said she is extremely honored to be considered the Administrator of the Year, she considers this title a validation of the hard work put forth by everyone at this school including the staff, the students and the parents.

“I don’t think any title makes you the best at anything,” Hawkins said. “People say it starts with the vision at the top and it does, but they still wouldn’t come here if I was the only thing on this campus. It has to do with the staff, the activities, athletics, ASB, broadcasting, journalism and marching band and great math teachers and great English teachers. Those are things that keep the kids learning more and everybody moving forward.”