TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9) — For the last eight years, Mary Anderson has stood at the helm of Fruchthendler Elementary School. Throughout her career in education, she expects excellence from her staff and students.
Deborah Brooks, a Fruchthendler third grade teacher, said especially throughout the last year of pandemic teaching, she is grateful for Anderson's support and constant communication.
"Principal Anderson just came in with her vision and leadership," Brooks said. "She brought the school to such a special place, a place of learning where we encourage students to do their best."
She said it's the children that bring her back to school every year. That bold passion for teaching children led her to be one of the eight winners of the U.S. Department of Education'sTerrel H. Bell award.
She said she didn't expect the award at all and her inbox was flooded with kind messages of congratulations from old friends and co-workers.
"It’s so humbling," Anderson said. "And just teared me up because it was from people that I hadn’t heard from in years and I am very honored to have received this award.”
Terrel H. Bell was a former teacher, superintendent and education secretary under President Ronald Reagan. The award is to recognize outstanding leaders and the role they play when leading students to excellence, especially during challenging times.
After she graduated from Northern Arizona University, she first started teaching in the Peoria school district. Then she moved to many different schools in Southern Arizona before landing her first principal job at Miller Elementary School. Each school under her guidance raised their performance rating.
Anderson said she never shies away from a challenge.
"I came here, we were a B rated school," she said. "Not bad but I know we could do better. The scores looked good but there was no growth, so together we worked on that. We collaborated with staff teachers and students."
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