Mary Derby

According to Mary Derby, the “heart and soul” of effective school leadership is a passion for teaching and learning. As Principal of Eisenhower Elementary, she leveraged this passion to create building-wide systems that support the fulfillment of high expectations for behavior and achievement, exhibiting creative leadership as dynamic as Eisenhower itself. For example, when a dramatic demographic shift led to increased referrals and reports of bullying, Derby took a “learning approach” to discipline, drawing on school climate surveys and individual interventions to identify the needs of the new population so that she could implement appropriate systems to address them. With a focus on norm-setting and positive reinforcement, Derby quickly recovered a positive school climate by introducing school-wide PBIS and the Kindness Challenge to establish the social-emotional foundation students need to exceed, while supporting teachers in adopting trauma-informed frameworks in the classroom. With 20 years of principalship under her belt, Derby has a passion for the “messy work of curriculum development” and has contributed to standards and assessment development at the school, district, and state level. She holds a B.S. with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education from North Texas State University, an M.A. in Elementary Reading from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Principal Licensure from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and an Assessment Leadership Endorsement from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.