Amanda Zimmerman, former vice principal at Montgomery Elementary School, in the Davis Unified School District, said she is excited for the first day of school. Students can expect a grand entrance, New Year’s Eve style, walking through a large balloon arch to music and applause from the staff and first responders. Parents will also be welcome to stay for coffee and meet the new principal themselves.
Zimmerman initially set out to be a lawyer but said that she really enjoyed being an advocate. Taking her experience as a kindergarten teacher, combining it with her background in criminal justice, Zimmerman said she found her niche as a fierce advocate for students under her care.
“What I’m most proud of being an educator, is what I really think my job is being a child advocate. I’m going to advocate for what’s best for the kids at Williams Elementary, and by extension advocate for what’s best for Williams in general. My philosophy is one of social justice.”
As a former teacher, Zimmerman has a passion for education which she says will be her focus for her students and staff. Weekly meetings with the grade-level teams will her to monitor ongoing progress and target-specific areas for individual students in order to intervene when necessary.
Zimmerman intends to face the nationwide struggle with low math scores head on.
“I’m having a meeting with our PTO (parent teacher organization) and we’re planning some activities that we’re going to do and ways that we’re going to reach out to parents,” said Zimmerman. “Something we’ve been working with staff is planning on running family math nights.”
Zimmerman added that she hoped to bolster excitement and family involvement with sneak peaks, open house, and communication with the parents.
Zimmerman has attended summer conferences for the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), a non-profit organization that promotes bilingual education and quality educational experiences for all students in California. She is familiar with the Sobrato Early Academic Language Model (SEAL), an academic language program, an instructional program that has been in place for two years at Williams.
Zimmerman said she used SEAL at her previous school.
“It’s a very involved, very in-depth way of teaching,” she said. “It’s good that I have that background so I can help my teachers. The SEAL model is really great because it is very culturally relevant and sensitive and that’s what the practice brings in. So when you’re talking about developing academic language in one language but being able to do it in two, it takes some really special skills.”
Zimmerman said that Williams is a wonderful school and a wonderful district.
“Elementary has the potential to be the gold standard for what a diverse, rural school can provide for their kids,” she added.
Zimmerman replaces Leticia Castañeda, who accepted employment in another county.
Zimmerman finished her degree at Sacramento State and got her master’s in education at UC Davis.
While a kindergartner teacher, Zimmerman was able to fill a vacancy as the vice-principal.
“It made me feel like I could have the biggest impact on the biggest number of kids,” said Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has been officially working since July 1 and is prepared for the first day of school on August 7.
“A lot of work goes on behind the scenes just to get the school year started,” she said. “We’ve been working so hard; I’m ready to see kids, their happy faces when they get to school. That’s what I’m really looking forward to the most, see their little faces, hear hear their laughter, and having a good time with them.” ■