Cassata ’01E, Ingwerson ’05E receive Principal of the Year honors
Two graduates of Doane University’s Master of Education - Educational Leadership program recently received principal of the year honors from the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (NSASSP).
Susan Cassata ’01E, Principal at Lincoln East High School, and Dr. Scott Ingwerson ’05E, Principal at Millard North Middle School, were named the NSASSP High School and Middle School Principals of the Year, respectively. The awards are given out annually to principals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their school, region, and at the state level. The NSASSP says the awards honors principals who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of collaborative leadership, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and personalization.
Cassata, who has been Principal at Lincoln East since 2008, has worked in education for 28 years. One of her mottos is “under the radar,” so she was very surprised when she learned of the honor.
“I was really humbled by the recognition,” she said. “I want to showcase the work of others -- students and staff -- which is why I was surprised to learn of the honor. It’s nice to be recognized for the work you do but honestly I aim to get as little attention as possible.”
“One of Nebraska’s highest-achieving schools is Lincoln East,” said Dr. Matt Larson, associate superintendent for instruction at Lincoln Public Schools. “The Lincoln East culture Ms. Cassata has collaboratively nurtured with staff is not only one of high academic expectations and accomplishment, it is also a culture known for its inclusive, caring, and supportive environment.”
Prior to receiving the statewide Principal of the Year award, Cassata was named NSASSP Region I High School Principal of the Year. Cassata was nominated by Brad Jacobsen ’06E, Principal at Ashland-Greenwood Middle/High School and a fellow graduate of Doane’s Educational Leadership (also known as EDL) program. Cassata gives a great deal of credit to Doane’s EDL program for providing her with a framework to become a successful leader.
“I was a graduate of cadre four at Doane; it was life-altering in the sense that it allowed me to understand myself as an educational leader,” Cassata said. “It gave me the opportunity to look at schools through a broader lens than just my classroom and it allowed me to see myself in a role that was beyond teaching but encompassed the same skill sets. The program also cemented for me that a core foundation of mine is servant leadership”
Prior to serving as Principal at Lincoln East, Cassata was the Assistant Principal at Lincoln North Star High School from 2005-2008. She also taught at Lincoln Southeast High School and was an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Doane.
Ironically one of Cassata’s students while she was a professor at Doane was Dr. Ingwerson, who was named Middle School Principal of the Year by the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals.
“I respect Sue so much and learned so much from her,” Dr. Ingwerson said. “I was really honored to see that she won the award at the high school level; for me to be recognized alongside her is really cool.”
Dr. Ingwerson has been at Millard North Middle School since 2007, serving as the Assistant Principal from 2007-2012 and Principal for the last eight-plus years. He received the statewide Middle School Principal of the Year award after being named the NSASSP Region II Outstanding Middle School Principal in 2014 and 2018.
“I was humbled I was provided this recognition,” Dr. Ingwerson said. “I was proud because this represents not only my work but also our staff and community, it’s a reflection of all of us. I don’t think you get this type of award in isolation. It’s Millard North, the community, and people I’ve worked with along the way.”
Like Cassata, Ingwerson has high praise for Doane’s College of Education, specifically the EDL program.
“It provided me with a great foundation to become a leader,” he said. “If I have a teacher who is interested in pursuing an administrative degree, I always recommend Doane. I don’t think I would be where I am today without the experiences I had in Doane’s program.”
Both Lincoln East and Millard North Middle School are operating with a mix of in-person and online learning this fall. For Cassata, Ingwerson, and other school administrators and teachers across Nebraska, the pandemic has proved to be a challenging time but also a great learning opportunity.
“It’s been fun, challenging, and tiring at the same time,” Dr. Ingwerson said. “I’m proud of how our administrators across the state have developed plans for our schools to open safely. We’ve learned a lot of tools and methods to implement when this is done, it’s a bit of a silver lining. We’re becoming better teachers and administrators because of it.”
Cassata added, “The last six months have been at times frantic, at times peaceful, and at times confusing. When I got to see students and staff in person again I remembered the importance of human connections and why doing what I do is important.”