NCCE Member Highlight: Crista Anderson
NAME and TITLE: Crista Anderson, Principal
SCHOOL DISTRICT: Dixon School District
NCCE MEMBER SINCE: 2009
What is one new initiative you are working on in your district?
As a school leader in a rural reservation school, it is essential that we open access to information and offer ample opportunity for students to practice digital learning skills. Dixon School has historically taken a lead in advocating for equity and establishing high expectation for students. Upon hire with the district, it was easy to see there had been great steps taken in providing digital tools for both students and staff. Unfortunately, the infrastructure was not yet in place to support the number of devices purchased or the digital demand web-based services and supports require. Last year, due to our status as a high poverty school, we were able to capitalize on our E-Rate discount to replace our existing single T1 residential line with fiber optics. With the fiber optics in place, we were able to focus on establishing a wireless networking solution bringing us from basic coverage to universal, providing users flexibility to move around the campus confidently without disruption of connectivity. Putting the basic infrastructure in place across campus allows teachers to expand the use of existing tools such as Google Apps for Education, Brainpop, streaming video, and mobile devices to their greatest capacity and minimize frustrations often found with technology integration.
What is one strategy you use to have a more productive workday?
One strategy I use to have a more productive workday is to get out of the isolation of my office. Each hour, I make sure to get out from behind my desk and do a building walkthrough. I appreciate the opportunity to see what the students and staff are working on. I have found that if staff see me walking through the halls, they are more apt to reach out for support. Often, the quick questions I can answer or resources I can provide during that time are worked into staff meetings or other professional development opportunities because all can benefit. In regards to strengthening student relationships, wandering the halls provides a chance to check in with all students before problems arise. I appreciate the chance to have informal dialogue about classes, family and activities without the confined walls of the Principal’s Office.
Name one thing your “mama always told you”?
I absolutely love this question. My mom has always done a lot more listening than talking. That is just one of the many characteristics I hope to have taken from her. I suppose that if I had to narrow it down to just one phrase, it would be “Tell me more.” When that phrase is used, it encourages active listening. When working out a conflict with my mother, you would work yourself into a solution before the conversation ended. It is empowering to know you have the information and skills to come to resolutions without always asking for help. It is equally empowering to learn who will listen and work with you as you face challenges.
When you “unplug” – what do you like to do?
Unplug. This is a difficult question. I am not very good at unplugging. I am very active following my children around to their various activities. Even with that, I can’t quite sit still. You will often find me with my camera perched at the edge of the hockey rink, soccer pitch, football field, or finding the best angle to the stage. I love taking the isolated moments in each picture and creating movies or constructing creative captions to post on social media. Did I mention I have trouble coming completely unplugged?