Debra K. Follman
Sweetwater Elementary School
Devils Lake Public Schools
Devils Lake, North Dakota

Debra Follman has been a catalyst for significant academic growth in her school during the past six years. The progress followed dedicated teamwork by Follman and her staff to establish and implement strategies for improving student learning. Results of their reform efforts include the school’s two national awards over two years for academic achievement, including recognition of gains by all student subgroups. The school received an Exemplary Reading Award from the International Reading Association and a Title I Distinguished School Award. Follman assumed the principalship of Sweetwater Elementary School in 1998. The small-town school currently serves 214 Kindergarten through grade 4 students. Follman fosters a community of learners by ensuring a safe and nurturing school environment. She also promotes strong parent involvement. Beyond her school, Follman has led and served on numerous curriculum teams for her district and state during her principalship. Most recently, she provided leadership for work on a standards-based report card and kindergarten through grade 12 math curriculum. She also developed the standards-based curriculum and assessment process that her school district now uses. “Working with educators to create a means of increasing achievement of all students and staff is a rewarding challenge for me,” she says. She earned a B.S. from Mayville State University in North Dakota, an M.Ed. from the University of North Dakota, and a Ph.D. from North Dakota State University.