Hopi Elementary School Leader Named a Maricopa County Exemplary Principal
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (May 10, 2019) – “Mrs. J., we need some backup in the gym.”
That two-way radio call on May 8 prompted Hopi Elementary School Principal Tamara Jagodzinski to excuse herself from a meeting and head to the school’s gymnasium. When she got there, rather than finding a situation that needed handling, Jagodzinski discovered Hopi’s entire student body and staff, her family, fellow Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) principals, community members and Maricopa County School Superintendent Steve Watson there, waiting to celebrate her selection as one of the county’s 2019 Exemplary Principals.
Greeted with deafening applause, a stunned Jagodzinski was escorted to the front of the gym, mouthing the word, “Wow!” when she turned to face the crowd. Somehow, more than 800 people succeeded in pulling off the surprise assembly.
Watson’s office annually recognizes leaders from among Maricopa County’s 1,100 principals. This year, the potential candidates were whittled to 50, based on high student achievement, student growth and teacher retention data. Thirty-one principals were then invited to apply for the recognition program, kicking off a review process that included a teacher survey, evaluating evidence of a school and community culture focused on teaching and learning, video interviews with the principals and school site visits. From the 31 invitees, 11 educators have been named Exemplary Principals this year.
At the Wednesday event, Watson called Jagodzinski an exceptional instructional leader. "In searching for great principals across Maricopa County, Tamara stood out as a positive force in education, and has created a strong school culture that has students and teachers excited to come to school every day."
In particular, he noted that Jagodzinski’s collaboration with teachers and the Hopi community results in great educational experiences for Hopi’s more than 700 students. Other speakers at the surprise gathering told of the handwritten birthday cards for students, teachers and staff that their principal hand-delivers each day.
Jagodzinski, affectionately referred to as “Mrs. J” by students, teachers and parents alike, says she is humbled by the recognition. “There are so many principals in both Scottsdale and Maricopa County who are deserving of this recognition. This award is truly an acknowledgement of the hard work of both the teachers and students at Hopi.”
SUSD’s Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, Dr. Ibi Haghighat, says the Hopi principal is too modest. “Mrs. Jagodzinski is not the sort of person to take credit for anything, but I assure you, the good things happening at Hopi are tied directly to her tremendous leadership.”
For more information on Hopi Elementary School, go to susd.org/hopi.
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About the Scottsdale Unified School District
With more than 23,000 students in 29 schools, the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) has been a premier choice for Pre-K through grade 12 public education for more than 120 years. Located northeast of metropolitan Phoenix, the District serves the educational needs of students and families in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, Tempe and Scottsdale. A highly experienced, professionally certified teaching staff fosters a diverse and rigorous educational environment to develop the potential in every individual learner. Offering gifted learning, special education, career and technical education, and a variety of athletics, arts and enrichment programs and clubs, SUSD provides the rich environment today’s students need to explore their interests, develop important social skills and grow into tomorrow’s leaders. For more information, visit and follow along on social media: : @ScottsdaleUSD, : @ScottsdaleUSD, : @ScottsdaleUnifiedSD, , and .