By K.P. Sander
Eastvale – At a Corona-Norco Unified School District (CNUSD) event held on Tues., May 7, Trevor Dietrich, Ed.D, was named Principal of the Year. Dr. Dietrich is the Principal at McKinley Elementary in Corona.
“Principal of the Year” is an Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) award, and those in consideration must demonstrate exemplary performance in criteria for exceptional leadership in managing school programs, strong support of school management teams, and commitment to educational quality and student achievement (and much more).
Each year ACSA sends out ballots with the names of those who are eligible in multiple categories, and administrators vote for who they think are deserving of the awards.
Says Dietrich, “Every year I try and take the process seriously and vote for who is doing a good job.”
Obviously Dietrich’s peers thought the same thing when they nominated him.
“Dr. D,” as he is fondly called by his students, has been with CNUSD for 15 years. He began as a 5th Grade teacher at John Adams Elementary in Corona, and in 2009 became principal of that school.
Evita Tapia, Public Information Officer for CNUSD says about Dietrich, “He is the perfect fit to be an elementary school principal, with his high energy and amiable personality.”
Two years ago, the District moved Dietrich to William McKinley Elementary to implement some of the successes he had realized at John Adams.
In Dietrich’s tenure, McKinley is definitely enjoying some success. McKinley is the first in the Inland Empire to become a “Leader in Me” site, a whole-school transformational process that teaches students how to be leaders of themselves, and how to work with other people using the soft skills of the 21st century (focusing on Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
Implemented in over 2,000 schools worldwide, the Leader in Me process has schools consistently reporting an increase in students’ self-confidence, teamwork, initiative, creativity, leadership, problem solving, communication, diversity awareness and self-directed learning – as well as dramatic decreases in disciplinary issues (according to the Leader in Me website).
“What’s great is that the Leader in Me program has bonded the staff at McKinley; it’s given us something to be proud of. And, its turning heads, making other schools notice us,” says Dietrich. “Other District schools are now in the process of becoming Leader in Me schools because of what we are doing.”
Surprised that he won the award, Dietrich says, “It’s validating for what is happening at McKinley. I’m the one getting the recognition, but it’s all about what the team is doing.”
In fact, Dietrich’s team was just notified that they are receiving the Models of Academic Excellence and Innovation award from the Riverside County Office of Education; and they are one of CNUSD’s three nominations for the California Golden Bell award, a prestigious recognition from the California School Board Association.
“Individuals are getting recognized, but it is all because of what’s happening in the totality of the Leader in Me process,” says Dietrich. “Parents are recognizing that what we are doing is much more impactful for the whole child in preparing them for the future.”
When asked what his biggest hope for McKinley is, Dietrich says, “Our WIG (Wildly Important Goal) is
to become a Lighthouse School by the end of next year. To become a Lighthouse School means you have checked off every box and have done all the things that you can do to ensure that the leadership theme has been built into the culture. If the principal leaves, the program doesn’t. My hope is that what we are doing with the Leader in Me program is so impactful that eventually it has nothing to do with me – but it has everything to do with McKinley and what they are doing.”
Dietrich holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Master’s degree in Curriculum Instruction from Concordia University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration from La Sierra University. He and his wife, Sarah, have three children: Emma, Justin and Luke. He is active in his church, extremely handy around the house, and enjoys sports – as an avid St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers fan; he also enjoys the Lakers (“Just not lately,” he says). “Dr. D” also teaches leadership classes at Concordia University. The Dietrich family lives in Eastvale.