Crown Point resident Angela Ruiz was recently chosen by the Indiana Association of School Principals as the 2013 District 1 Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year, representing Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counties.
The assistant principal at Thomas Edison Jr.-Sr. High School in Lake Station, Ruiz first became interested in education when her daughter began school.
“When my daughter entered kindergarten I quickly learned that the educational system was not what I expected. I went to school as a 27-year-old that wanted to make a difference, even if for one child,” she said.
A former teacher in the Lake Ridge School Corp., Ruiz wasted no time making changes at Edison.
Among the most popular changes was curbing student suspensions in favor of a community service program facilitated by a mentor. Services include raking leaves, painting and picking up litter.
“Overall, the well-behaved students never received suspension and the poorly behaved students were repeatedly serving suspension with no changes made to their behavior,” she said of the former system.
“Adding the mentoring component to the community outreach program has made the most drastic difference,” Ruiz added. “Our supervisor creates a relationship with the students and helps keep them on track. We no longer 'reward' negative behavior with a day out of the classroom or a day at home.”
A member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Ruiz will be officially recognized for her efforts at a luncheon Nov. 23 during the Indiana Assistant Principals Conference at the Indianapolis Marriott Hotel. Twelve district winners will be announced, and one will be named State Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year.
Ruiz is a 1990 graduate of Hammond Baptist High School and received her elementary education degree from Purdue University Calumet. She earned master’s degrees in administration and mathematics and science, and is working toward a superintendent’s license and a PhD.
“I love being there for the educators and staff members each day. I never want to lose touch with the amount of work that goes into being a teacher,” she said. “Educators can make or break a child’s spirit. It is my goal to remind myself and my colleagues of this each day.”