Celebrating Student Program Advisers of the Year

Each year, NHS, NJHS, NEHS, and NatStuCo—through their administering organization, the National Association of Secondary School Principals—celebrate and recognize exemplary advisers who are committed to fostering student leadership and empowering student voice.

Warren E. Shull Adviser of the Year Award

The Warren E. Shull Award is named for the founder of National Student Council and is presented to a middle level and high school student council adviser each year who demonstrate exemplary character, leadership, and commitment to young people and their development as student leaders.

2021 Warren E. Shull High School Adviser of the Year

Terry D’Imperio

Livonia Middle/High School

Livonia, NY

 

For 33 years, Terry D’Imperio has guided the student council at Livonia Middle/High School. In the tight-knit, school-oriented community of Livonia, student leadership has a major impact. Mindful of this, the council strives to run activities that bring the school and community together whenever possible, from penny carnivals and an enchanted pumpkin patch to an annual breakfast with Santa. Connection is a recurring theme in D’Imperio’s work, as evidenced by a leadership class project that directs students to “connect people together in some way.” Her inspiration for the class came after attending a workshop at her first National Student Council Conference. The class she developed was so impactful, her superintendent decided every student who passed through Livonia MHS should take it, giving way to Freshman Leadership.

Principal John Gammon says D’Imperio always “empowers her students to be the best version of themselves” while making a positive contribution to their school and community. “Through her work with students in the leadership classes, combined with her work as our student council adviser, Mrs. D’Imperio has nurtured a student-centered environment that continues to not only foster strong student leadership but also builds school spirit that unifies our building.”

Livonia MHS Student Council President Abigail Abrey notes that some of her favorite memories of school are at council events with Mrs. D. “She is someone I hope to be like as I grow up with how many hearts and lives she has affected and inspired,” she says. “I will never be able to thank her enough, not just for what she has done for me, but what she has done for our entire community and people all over the world.”

Being an adviser this past year hasn’t been easy, but Principal Gammon says some of D’Imperio’s strongest leadership occurred during the pandemic. “She was instrumental in creating a warm, caring environment for students within the strict structure of our COVID safety plans. She helped our students to look at each obstacle as an opportunity, encouraging them that all things are still possible if we are creative and carry the right attitude.”

2021 Warren E. Shull Middle School Adviser of the Year Petra Davis-Johnson

Las Flores Middle School

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

 

As an award-winning science teacher, science department chair, and school activities director, Petra Davis-Johnson teaches leadership from experience. She developed the Associated Student Body (ASB) program at Las Flores Middle School 23 years ago and continues to guide and build her students’ capacity as leaders (even referring to them as “my leaders”) by challenging them to think outside the box when designing or brainstorming themes. Actively encouraging students not to fear failure, council members debrief after each activity to identify what went well and what they could do better next time without judgment. “There’s always a chance what they envision will fail, but they won’t know until they try,” Davis-Johnson says. “It is in failure that learning takes place.”

To foster a culture of servant leadership, she says her students spend a great deal of time bonding and creating a culture of trust. The council is ever mindful of keeping the needs and wants of the student body at the forefront when planning activities and events, going into planning with a mindset of “give what you need.” Jonathan, ASB president at LFMS, says Davis-Johnson is the perfect example of “a leader of leaders.” He explains, “She brings out the best in all of her students and guides them in the direction of success. She teaches in such a way that we have to learn our own lessons, while still having a safety net in her guidance.”

Her work has not gone unnoticed, garnering her a district Teacher of the Year Award, a CADA Area F Service Award from the California Association of Student Leaders (CASL) and California Association of Directors of Activities (CADA), and a Middle School Activities Director of the Year Award from CADA.

LFMS Principal Tim Reece also sees Davis-Johnson as a catalyst for change and innovative leadership in his school, noting that she developed their original ASB program and has run the program her entire time at the school. “Her program is a well-oiled machine, promoting positive behavior and participation in school activities, including honor roll recognition, dances, lunchtime activities, spirit days and weeks, assemblies, and field trips,” he says. “Even though the program is already very effective, Petra continues to add or try new ideas. I value and depend on Petra’s input when I make important school site decisions and appreciate her calm, thoughtful presentation of ideas and opinions.”

Edward Rynearson National Adviser of the Year Award

The Edward Rynearson Adviser of the Year Award was established to recognize outstanding Honor Society advisers for their leadership and commitment to the purposes of NHS and NJHS. Each award year, one NHS adviser and one NJHS adviser are selected from among the submissions to be recognized as Rynearson Advisers of the Year.

2021 NHS Rynearson Adviser of the Year

Ysmeli Rosa

Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics, New York, NY

 

Ysmeli Rosa founded the NHS chapter at Gregorio Luperon High School and has served as the NHS adviser for three years. In that time, she has cemented herself as a valuable member of the school community and a respected leader among students and staff. Rosa has worked to bring different volunteering experiences to the student community, including blood drives, fashion shows to raise money in support of charitable causes, and fundraising to support students in temporary housing. During COVID-19, Rosa partnered with the local budget office to help students raise money for families experiencing food insecurity. Together, they were able to provide groceries and basic necessities for more than 40 families.

Principal Yecenia Cardoza-Delarosa praises Rosa for her contributions to the school culture. She says, “Time and time again, Ysmeli has proven to be an instrumental—and frankly, irreplaceable—member of my team. I can always count on her to go beyond her roles and responsibilities and to serve my students and families with the utmost respect and dedication.” Having known her first as a student 15 years ago, she continues, “I find myself in a unique position to testify on the student she was then, to witness the hardworking employee she is now, and to predict the kind of recognition she deserves.”

NHS alumna and former student Alondra Martinez continues the high praise in her recommendation: “Ms. Rosa is creative, thoughtful, passionate, honest, dependable, innovative, and an exceptional collaborator among her colleagues. She is fully deserving of this honor.” Rosa’s commitment to education, student leadership, and her own professional development sets an excellent example for all Honor Society advisers.

2021 NJHS Rynearson Adviser of the Year

Ross Ann Hill

Idalou Middle School, Idalou, TX

 

 

Ross Ann Hill’s distinguished career as an educator and NJHS adviser spans over 20 years. In that time, she has been recognized for her commitment to students and academic excellence, most recently in 2020 as the Distinguished Educator of Lubbock County, TX. She has created a culture of service and leadership at her chapter, which includes NJHS members leading fifth grade orientation and eighth grade leadership day, as well as raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). Under Hill’s supervision, the chapter annually raises between $300–$700 for the CMN, and NJHS officers attend the annual banquet that recognizes major fundraising. Members also have the opportunity to tour pediatric hospitals to see how their funds are being used.

In his recommendation, Principal Josh Damron says, “I have come to rely on Mrs. Hill as a leader on the middle school campus. She currently serves on my site-based decision-making committee, where she is trusted as a result of her experience and wisdom. She walks the walk of a servant leader where she is always conscientious of doing the right things in the right way. “

NJHS member Gracey Merrell echoes these thoughts in her own recommendation, highlighting Hill’s strong leadership. She says, “Ross Ann Hill has done an abundance of things to boost my desire to render service, lead a group, have character, and to be a good citizen. Mrs. Hill held me accountable for things I could not have imagined that I would achieve. The goals she had set for me and my fellow NJHS members in the beginning seemed unattainable, but not only did she help us reach them—she helped us surpass them. She always emphasized that if we were good examples to the rest of our school, soon they would follow.”

NEHS Adviser of the Year

The NEHS National Adviser of the Year Award has been established to recognize outstanding NEHS advisers for their leadership and commitment to the purposes of NEHS. Each award year, one NEHS adviser is selected among the submissions to be recognized as the National Adviser of the Year.

2021 NEHS Adviser of the Year

Donna Tippin

Bryant Elementary School, Tampa, FL

 

 

Donna Tippin has served as the NEHS adviser at Bryant Elementary School for six years. In addition to her role as an Honor Society adviser, Tippin is a well-celebrated educator in her state, earning several Educator of the Year and Teacher of the Year awards, including the Barnes & Noble Local Educator of the Year and State High Impact Teacher from the Florida Department of Education. She has regularly overseen successful chapter service activities, including toy drives and donating necessities to the Humane Society. Early on in the pandemic, Tippin assigned mentors to coach students and help them maintain their GPAs, and she came up with safe, creative ways for students to provide service to the community.

In addition to outlining Tippin’s professional and chapter accomplishments, Principal Ellen Oberschall states that Tippin, “has a positive and lasting influence on the members of NEHS. She is known for her passion for teaching and motivates her students to perform at their best. More importantly, she cares about them and their core interests. She exemplifies the NEHS pillars of scholarship, responsibility, service, and leadership.”

NEHS chapter president Olivia Sheakoski echoes these thoughts in her own recommendation, highlighting Tippin’s leadership during the pandemic and adapting to hybrid learning. She says, “So many of the normal things you are used to doing look so very different. You’re sure there is no way that you will be able to do NEHS this year, but Mrs. Tippin had a plan! She will let nothing stop her when it comes to her students, not even a pandemic. Mrs. Tippin not only made National Elementary Honor Society happen for our chapter, but she is also inspiring and motivating us each month. She has helped us to come up with creative ways to meet our chapter’s goals. Thanks to Mrs. Tippin, doing good is always possible! She does more good for our chapter members and the community than she even realizes. I am so thankful she is our NEHS chapter adviser.” —