Member Spotlight: Middle-Level Principal Makes Students Feel Valued

Ohio principal Heidi Kegley offers tips on leveraging mentors and helping students transition to middle school.

March 2017, Volume 40, Issue 7

Heidi Kegley

Years principal: 14


  • B.S. from Wright State University
  • M.Ed. from University of Dayton in Ohio

School: Willis Intermediate School, Delaware City, Ohio

  • 850 students
  • 75 staff
  • Suburban
  • High percentage free- and reduced-price lunch

According to Heidi Kegley, one of her hardest challenges as principal is “finding the time to balance all its aspects, as well as making sure everyone knows they are important for me.” Middle-level education requires a special type of commitment to students emotionally as well as academically. Between raising achievement levels and setting up a student mentoring program, Kegley has made sure students and staff at Willis Intermediate School in Delaware City, Ohio, know how important they are.

On becoming a school principal:

I wanted to have the opportunity to work with more of the staff and students within a building, on a larger scale than an individual classroom.

On helping students transition to middle school:

Our students come from five elementary schools, and after two years they transition to a seventh and eighth-grade building—so it’s very important that we support students socially, emotionally, and academically as they prepare to go to middle school.

On setting up a student mentoring program:

My first year as an assistant principal, I created a partnership with Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Ohio Wesleyan University. It’s now grown to 100 mentors. Even when a college student graduates, some have moved on to a community-based Big Brothers Big Sisters program. There have been so many success stories throughout the years. I remember one student who had really struggled academically and socially, and he was being given an award. His Big Brother came to the celebration even though the family could not make it.

We’re looking for ways to continue the program once our students leave our school; we’re going to try to get them bussed back for the program.

On making a difference in students’ educational experiences:

It’s important to know every student is important. We need to make sure we have high expectations for every student, and make sure that they have the support and resources to reach their full potential.


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