Penn Hills Elementary principal nominated for Principal of the Year - Penn Hills Progress

Penn Hills Elementary principal nominated for Principal of the Year

Thursday, January 23, 2020 | 1:50 PM

A Penn Hills Elementary principal is in line to win the distinction of Principal of the Year through a Pittsburgh nonprofit.

Amy Yohe, a kindergarten teacher, thought of her principal – Kristin Brown – right away when she found out about The Education Partnership’s awards programs for teachers and principals.

“She goes above and beyond,” said Yohe, who’s worked with Brown for 18 years. “She’s always rewarding other people and finding the good in other people. But no one ever thinks about her and all the good things she’s doing in our district and the community.”

For example, she said Brown created a behavior management system for students — and teachers. Essentially, students and teachers earn “Bee Slips” when they display safe, responsible, kind and respectful behaviors.

“She’s known as like the Bee lady. When she sees us doing something well, she rewards us,” Yohe said, adding the principal also included students’ bus drivers in the program to make sure students are not just behaving well in school, but in the community as well.

Yohe said Brown also allows her teachers to try new teaching methods and try different ideas.

“She’s always willing to try new things,” she said. “I believe she wants to do what’s best for the kids, too. If she thinks it will help the teacher and the kids … she’s very positive and lets us try new things like that.”

Brown, 48, began her career at Penn Hills School District as a student-teacher while still pursuing her undergraduate degree from Penn State. She then received a long-term subbing position.

“And I kind of never left,” she said, adding the job landed her at Dible Elementary School. The school sat on the land that now houses the elementary campus. She has worked at several schools within the district over 25 years.

In 2014, the school district moved into the Penn Hills Elementary School campus along Jefferson Road. It houses students in kindergarten through fourth grade. She said the transition into that school was a challenge.

“But we were able to learn and grow together and accept the new challenge,” she said. Of receiving a nomination for best principal of the year, Brown said: “I’m just really humbled. I just do my job every day, I don’t expect praise. So it’s definitely an honor. It makes you feel like you’re doing something right.”

The principal said she always had lofty goals for herself in education, specifically in elementary education.

“I love the elementary age group. You’re molding their young minds and creating opportunities for them to grow academically and emotionally. So I’m involved in the development in the whole child … to make sure all their needs are being thought about, that’s important,” she said.

The Education Partnership, formed in 2009, provides teachers and students with school supplies at no cost to those in need.

Brown has been named a finalist, along with three other principals from schools around the region. People can vote for Brown and other finalists through Feb. 9 through The Education Partnership’s website.