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Ricenbaw ’05E named Nebraska's Middle School Principal of the Year

Ricenbaw ’05E named Nebraska's Middle School Principal of the Year

Ross Ricenbaw

Another Doane College of Education graduate (and current student) has received a prestigious award.


Ross Ricenbaw ’05E, a 2005 graduate of Doane’s Curriculum and Instruction program and current student in Doane’s educational specialist program, has been named the 2019 Middle School Principal of the Year by the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (NSASSP). Ricenbaw is the Principal at Waverly Middle School, a position he has held for the past six years.


“It’s very humbling to receive this recognition,” he said. “We have so many great people in education in Nebraska. We’re fortunate to have great educators, leaders, students, and families in Nebraska. It’s a great state to work in and Waverly is such a great place to be, it makes it that much more special.”


The Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals (under the umbrella of the National Association of Secondary School Principals) is split into five regions. Each year, a Middle School Principal of the Year and a High School Principal of the Year are awarded in each region.


Last April, Ricenbaw was named the Middle School Principal of the Year for Region 1, which Waverly is a part of. The following spring, a state winner is selected from the five Middle School Principals of the Year and a state winner is selected from the five High School Principals of the Year.


Ricenbaw was one of the two state winners selected and will be the one representing Nebraska in Washington, D.C. in September at the NASSP Principal’s Institute, which recognizes award winners and provides a forum for honorees to advocate for education and share best practices in their respective school districts.


Ricenbaw is a native of Friend, Nebraska who has held positions teaching at Ralston Middle School and Ralston High School prior to coming to Waverly. Most recently, he served as a 7-12 principal at East Butler Public Schools, an opportunity that he believes enhanced his professional career.


“As a small school principal, you’re doing everything,” he said. “The exposure I got there has served me well today.”


Ricenbaw also gives Doane’s College of Education a lot of credit for developing his professional skills in his young career. He is expected to graduate from the educational specialist program in December 2020 and hopes to begin the Doctorate of Education program at Doane shortly after.


“The way Doane’s programs are set up, it’s very relevant to what I’m doing with my job,” he said. “The format, content, and discussions are all vibrant. There’s a great deal of reflection and personalization that allows students to take ownership of their own learning.”


Dr. Doug Christensen, director and lead professor of the Educational Specialist program at Doane, says Ricenbaw embodies what Doane faculty believe is the profile of a leader.


“He (Ross) has the right dispositions of character, integrity, persistence, and resilience,” Christensen said. “He places the students and staff at the focus of his work. He is a role model for others who expect to lead and be effective in doing the kinds of things that make a difference in the lives of others, in particular, students and staff. He is exactly the kind of person for whom this recognition is intended.”


Cory Worrell, Superintendent of District 145 - Waverly, echoes Christensen’s high remarks of Ricenbaw.


“Ross is very deserving of the award he has received,” Worrell said. “He has worked tirelessly to improve our culture at Waverly Middle School. He has been a great advocate for his building and is not afraid to make the case for something that could benefit his students and staff. He has also been an advocate for education in Nebraska through his leadership roles within the Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA). He is always looking for ways to improve and get better.”


Ricenbaw is the president-elect for the Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals and will begin serving in that role in September, on top of his duties at Waverly Middle School.


For more information on the National Association of Secondary School Principals, visit their website at