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West Fargo assistant principal wins national honor

Holly Ripley

WEST FARGO—Holly Ripley, an assistant principal at West Fargo High School, was named the 2016 National Assistant Principal of the Year.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals recognized Ripley on Friday during its 100th anniversary luncheon at the annual conference in Orlando, Fla. after she was named the North Dakota Assistant Principal of the Year in December.

Ripley was as an educator in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina before moving to West Fargo in 2007 as director of knowledge management.

"I was looking for an adventure," she told the West Fargo Pioneer in December.

In 2010, Ripley became assistant principal at West Fargo High School, a position that gives her "the best of two worlds" as an educator and a leader.

"I get to lead and to help our young people grow," she said.

Working closely with students and staff in the school gave Ripley a good view of what the student needs are.

She said she quickly realized that the high school was losing some students before graduation, and some who were graduating were still not proficient in basic skills such as writing, which was unacceptable.

"It's shocking, but in every community this happens," she said.

Ripley and fellow teachers and staff at the high school have worked on a multitiered approach of support for students that helps students succeed.

"Creating a system in a large school like West Fargo was what I saw was missing," she said. "We had a lot of people doing a lot of individual work, but we were doing it one kid at a time and everyone was just exhausted."

Ripley said she feels encouraged to take risks for results and West Fargo's data-driven approach to student success is a benefit.

West Fargo High School Principal Jennifer Fremstad nominated Ripley for the state award.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals annually honors one assistant principal from each state who have demonstrated success in leadership, curriculum and personalization.

"School-based administrators work really hard," Ripley said. "My peers and I, we're really trying in everything we do to change the world, with the little bit of work we do. Whether it be me or one of my colleagues, [an award] is not something you work for. I'm just trying to change the world."

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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