Woodland Elementary’s ‘outstanding’ assistant principal

Toni Beckler receives national recognition

When Principal Linda Perdaems, of Woodland Elementary School in Brooklyn Park, asked Toni Beckler’s permission to nominate her as a National Outstanding Assistant Principal, Beckler declined.

That didn’t stop Perdaems.

“I had initially said ‘no,’ and then she didn’t give me a choice,” Beckler said.

Beckler, a Maple Grove resident, went on to become Minnesota’s 2013 National Outstanding Principal.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals established the award in 2011 as a means of recognizing assistant principals doing a “superb job” in their roles. Each year it gives the honor to one nominee from each state.

In selecting Beckler for the honor, the selection committee said Beckler is focused on child-centered decision-making.

“She is able to ask tough questions, is solution oriented and creative, and is an expert in teaching and leading professional learning communities,” the committee noted.

“Perhaps her greatest strength is her ability to lead and work with people,” Perdaems said. “She builds positive, productive relationships with students, parents and staff. You can consistently find her out and about in our building and outside at recess or at bus duty, greeting and interacting with students.”

Beckler is in her fourth year as an assistant principal at Woodland. Although she has worked in the public education system 17 years, this was her first administrative position.

“I think I became an assistant principal because I love the teachers,” she said. “… I think they’re the most magical, dedicated, compassionate people I know.”

Beckler believes listening is the most important task she does.

“If you can help a kid find their voice, you can learn a lot from a kid,” she said.

In addition to listening, Becker said it’s important to be as visible as possible, so parents, students and teachers know she’s there and see their struggles and triumphs.

Her third rule is never to assign someone a job she wouldn’t do.

“In order to understand what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis, you have to be willing to do the same things,” she said.

In spite of the accolades, Beckler refuses to take all the credit for the award.

“Even though my name is on this award, this is a school recognition,” she said.

Beckler said she’s proud of how hard Woodland’s staff works and how the students reach out to each other. She said this year especially the sixth-graders have embraced the first-graders and the school has become a “family.”

Beckler will receive the award at a ceremony Feb. 7.

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