Trailside Elementary School
Anchorage School District
According to Heather Jones, “a school cannot be successful with just a principal,” but needs a leader who is “willing to listen without judgement, value all stakeholders’ input, share responsibilities, and engage in the process of education with their staff.” In her 14-year career as a principal, Jones has done just that, earning a track record as an effective leader with a humble, hands-on approach to turn around leadership. Drawing on her years of experience as a leader within diverse community contexts, ranging from a remote island to a Native American reservation to her current neighborhood school, Jones embraces a distributive, facilitative, and empathy-driven approach to leadership. A fierce champion of social-emotional learning, Jones has proven particularly adept at shifting culture and revitalizing school environments by cultivating community safety, carefully restoring trust, and shoring up teacher ownership, leadership, and sense of professional community. As principal of pre-K-6 Trailside Elementary School in Anchorage, for example, Jones set out to improve low favorability ratings by engaging in open listening for staff, students, and parents, whose feedback helped shape the school’s improvement strategy, leading to gains in achievement and connectivity after just one year of implementation. Jones holds an Associate’s degree in Business and Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Western Montana College, as well as a Master’s degree in Teaching and a Master’s degree in Administration from Grand Canyon University.