A former Jay will become the first female principal in Jefferson City High School‘s history.
Deanne Fisher will be the new principal of Jefferson City High School, the school district announced in a news release Thursday.
Fisher will succeed seven-year manager Bob James, who will become the new Osage County R-2 superintendent in Linn in July.
The majority of Fisher’s career in education has been spent in the Jefferson City School District. She has been principal of Lewis and Clark Middle School since 2018 and was responsible for supervising nearly 1,000 students and 100 staff. Fisher has experience planning curriculum, improving iReady test scores, and implementing the BASE program, which supports students with disabilities. Fisher also helped establish the district’s first alternative school, the Jefferson City Academic Center, and saw more than 1,000 students graduate there during her years as principal.
“It’s very dear to my heart, and when I had the opportunity to go to Lewis and Clark to really build on that, it was an opportunity I couldn’t really turn down. But it was hard to leave that, because that was my baby, and because you’re so close to the families and the kids there,” she said.
Fisher was proud to see JCAC named a national and public character school and to be the only alternative school to receive the state award.
She said the graduates of this school now had their own children whom she saw at school, and she said the trust she had built with them helped her when talking to them about their children.
Fisher’s career began in 1996 with a teaching position at the Cole R-5 School District in Eugene. She then went to Simonsen Ninth Grade Center at JC Schools, where she was credited with lowering the district’s dropout rate as a credit recovery teacher. Later, she continued in this role while also serving as an assistant to the administrators.
“Dr. Deanne Fisher has been an incredible asset to JC Schools, serving her students and fellow educators with unwavering energy, passion, and commitment for more than two decades,” said Assistant Superintendent of JC Schools. secondary education from JC Schools, Gary Verslues, in a press release. “Throughout her years of experience, Deanne has proven time and time again that she is a fiercely dedicated and driven educator who goes out of her way to help others succeed. I couldn’t be prouder to see Deanne Fisher, an accomplished educator in our community, to lead Jefferson City High School.”
Fisher said the main changes in moving from college to high school will be increased curricular and extracurricular offerings and a focus on planning for a transition to adulthood.
Some additional challenges the high school will face are related to the pandemic. Fisher said the pandemic has changed how students work and how long they can work in a classroom.
A teacher told Fisher that what she wanted in a principal was someone who could help the school move from “survival to thriving.” Fisher said she thinks after the construction turmoil and a pandemic, it’s time to thrive.
Some of the foundations have been laid, she said. Fisher said she worked closely with James to “vertically align” middle and high school campuses to make the transition more seamless, and said she was happy with the foundation James has put in place.
Fisher said his leadership style is “very hands-on and very visible.” While this style of leadership may initially make people suspicious, she says, people will become more comfortable as she builds trust with her teachers.
Trust, she said, is also an important part of the equation when it comes to retaining good teachers.
“It’s really about taking care of your people and making sure it’s a place and you’re someone they want to come to and trust,” Fisher said.
“And then when I say I’m going to do something, I do it,” she added.
Fisher also said she wanted to foster a sense of Jay pride that was present when she was Jay.
Fisher is looking forward to seeing the students she saw in middle school grow into young adults in high school. His first class of eighth graders at Lewis and Clark will be seniors next year.
“We see so much growth starting in sixth, seventh and eighth grade, and kids are changing,” Fisher said. “Every year they’re different. And so continuing to see them for the next four years and then being able to graduate them at the end… that’s probably going to be one of the most exciting things, is getting involved in their lives for a long time.”
Fisher earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in History from what is now Missouri State University, a Masters in Secondary Education Administration and Supervision from Lincoln University, a Specialist Diploma in primary certification education for years 7-12 from William Woods University and a doctorate in education from St. Louis University in instructional leadership.
Fisher has a 23-year-old daughter and two grandchildren. When not in school, she can be found teaching classes at the Healthplex with her “fitness family.”