Stillwater Junior School Principal Selected
as OASSP/OMLEA Middle Level Principal of the Year
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 3, 2023) – The Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals (OASSP) and the Oklahoma Middle Level Education Association (OMLEA) are pleased to announce Crystal Szymanski as the Middle Level Principal of the Year. Szymanski will be recognized at the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA) Summer Leadership Conference this June.
As principal at Stillwater Junior High School, one of only two public schools in Oklahoma serving only grades 8-9, Szymanski has focused on increasing teacher collaboration around student learning in both English and mathematics. She supports innovation by leading a learning environment where teachers feel safe to use technology, to analyze student assessment data, and to explore new teaching methods. As a result, Stillwater Junior High School students on average showed more than 1.5 academic years of growth in state assessments this past school year.
"Stillwater Public Schools is very fortunate to have Crystal Szymanski as the principal at our junior high school,” said Superintendent Uwe Gordon. “She is creative, detail oriented and incredibly professional. She has created a strong culture and common vision for her faculty and staff. She is also well respected by her administrative colleagues in the district. I love her unique perspectives and ideas and all reaffirm her love for the education profession. Crystal is very deserving of this award."
Under Ms. Szymanski’s leadership, Stillwater Junior High has developed many opportunities for students to learn and to apply soft skills and problem solving. One example is the SJHS Robotics team that is in its second year of existence and its first year of formal competition. This year, the school had six competitive teams who worked extensively to research, build and code their own robots. Four of those teams earned a place in the Oklahoma State Competition, and this past month, SJHS sent two teams to the Vex Robotics World Championship.
“I am honored and humbled to be recognized,” said Szymanski. “Educating kids and supporting teachers is a privilege I am excited for each day, and I continue to be incredibly thankful for the opportunity to serve the Stillwater community. Thank you to the faculty and staff for giving me the opportunity to lead SJHS. Stillwater Junior High would not be what it is without you. As Todd Whitaker says, 'It's people and not programs that make the difference, ' and the faculty and staff at SJHS makes a huge difference every day for our kids!"
Dr. Pam Deering, CCOSA executive director said, “Crystal Szymanski has led her junior high school through major shifts in technology integration and improvements in collaboration around learning standards. With her attention to establishing a site leadership team and encouraging a positive school culture, teachers and students feel encouraged and they achieve more. Congratulations to Ms. Szymanski as the OASSP/OMLEA Middle School Principal of the year. We love her commitment to student success.”
Carissa Wilkinson, a teacher at Stillwater Junior High School, explained, “Crystal Szymanski strongly believes that all students have the right to access grade level standards. Her advocacy to rethink and relook at how we support our students in special populations is pivotal - from having students participate in their educational plan meetings - to setting expectations where all students will receive grade-level essential standards in all content areas.”
“Crystal Szymanski is a leader among leaders,” said William Parker, OASSP/OMLEA executive director. “The role of a principal is pivotal for student success, and Ms. Szymanski exemplifies how hardworking principals across the state are helping their schools by focusing on both positive school environments and strong student outcomes. Her passion for reaching all students has nurtured an environment of student growth at her school.”
In addition to being recognized at the CCOSA Summer Leadership Conference this June, Ms. Szymanski’s award will include attendance at one of the national conferences for secondary principals in 2023-2024.
For more information about OASSP, OMLEA and the Principal of the Year Awards, please visit www.ccosa.org.