Jennifer Hermanson brings an international flair to Norterra Canyon
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
New Norterra Canyon Assistant Principal Jennifer Hermanson has worked in the Deer Valley Unified School District for a year. Already she sees it as her perfect job.
She formerly worked as a teacher on assignment/assistant principal at Bellair and Arrowhead elementary schools in Glendale. It was there she had a taste of district employees’ work ethic.
“It was wonderful to get to grow and learn under those two leaders,” says Hermanson of the schools’ principals. “It’s by far one of the best districts I’ve ever worked for in 18 years. Everybody is learning and growing and helping each other grow and learn.”
Raised in Southern Illinois, Hermanson worked in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Saudi Arabia and Beijing, China, before becoming the principal intern/choral director at Melrose-Mindoro School District in Melrose, Wisconsin. Her resume also includes a stint as an educational consultant for Center for Teacher Effectiveness. She earned her master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from ASU.
In Beijing, she taught English as a second language and learned different leadership and organizational styles.
“All of them had something really wonderful I could learn from,” Hermanson says.
From 2011 to 2017, Hermanson lived on a compound in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with her husband, Andrew, and three kids, Mallory, Brett and Asher, who are now, respectively 14, 11 and 9. Hermanson was a theory of knowledge coordinator and teacher at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. She also served as the choral director for Gardens Secondary School and KAUST Community Choral director.
“We had a wonderful experience with the people there and when we traveled to various other Middle Eastern countries. My kids, to this day, say, ‘We miss Saudi Arabia.’ They miss their friends, too,” says Hermanson, who is a doctoral candidate at Grand Canyon University.
“There are a lot of Westerners there. It was really enlightening. The best way to learn and grow is to see the world and meet people who do not share the same things as you do, who live in poverty. My kids are growing up with a different idea of what the world looks like. We need to understand that we have to look at other people and understand their perspective. It doesn’t mean you’re going to agree—respect it and understand it.”
For example, the Hermansons took their children traveling through the Middle East — the Red Sea, Jordan, Sri Lanka and Amman — to view historical sites.
“Sri Lanka was great for the kids to understand how other cultures and economies exist and they should be grateful for what they have,” she says. “But there’s joy everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have the best car or the biggest house. Some of the happiest people we met didn’t have electricity or running water.”
Hermanson’s experience in Saudi Arabia prepared her for the International Baccalaureate Program, which is offered at Norterra Canyon. IB offers a continuum of international education, and encourages personal and academic achievement, challenging students to excel in their studies and in their personal development. Schools authorized to offer IB programs are known as IB World Schools.
“It really allows the students to have a true middle school experience in regard to a variety of educational opportunities, visual arts and design,” she says. “There are so many opportunities that are offered within this program that helps enrich the students’ education.”
The IB program is three steps: the Primary Years Program is for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade; Middle Years Program is sixth to 10th grade; and Diploma Program is 11th and 12th grades.
“The Diploma Program is most regularly compared against the AP,” she says. “The Middle Year partner school is Barry Goldwater High School. They finish off ninth and 10th grade and then the students go to Barry Goldwater. They have the option to enroll in the Diploma Program in 11th or 12th grades or continue with AP or other career and technical education.”
Hermanson describes her managing style as servant leadership, which boasts selfless confidence, compassion and motivation.
“I didn’t make that up, either,” she says with a laugh. “I got that from a book. I do read a lot and there are a lot of really great books out there that really help me to grow as a leader.
“I certainly do not know it all. Educators really want to be as useful and helpful as possible in raising the next generation. I had wonderful teachers and leaders who have helped me. I didn’t get here on my own. I’m a believer that I am everything I am by the grace of God. It’s not me.”