DISD’s top principal transfers to Woodrow Wilson High School
Just a few months ago, Judy Zimny was named Dallas ISD’s principal of the year. At the time, she was finishing her ninth year leading L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary. But before long, she was named Woodrow Wilson High School’s new principal.
What was it that earned her the principal of the year honor, as well as her first administrative assignment as a secondary school?
Jane Didear, communications specialist for DISD, says Zimny’s ability to work with all the various – and sometimes conflicting – parties involved with a public school is a key element to her success.
“She communicates very well with students and staff, and she also deals well with parents and the community around the school,” she says.
That ability, according to Didear, is crucial to an effective school leader. “I don’t think most people realize what a challenge it is to be a principal,” she says. “It’s like being CEO of a business, with budgeting and personnel issues, but also with parents and community to deal with. Many times people may have strengths in one area or another, but Judy has a good balance in all of them.”
Zimny says she’s excited about beginning a new chapter in her professional life at Woodrow.
“The school has so many strengths to it, with strong parental involvement and longtime traditions,” she says. “There’s a lot to build on there. But it also has some pretty big challenges.”
The challenges, she adds, are similar to those that most schools face: improving academic achievements, increasing the number of students involved in extracurricular activities and building leadership skills.
Zimny says her motivation in leading a school is much more calling than paycheck.”You can’t really look at it as a job,” she says. “You really have to look at it as a mission. It’s not just about raising test scores or keeping a safe school.
“When people start trusting you and perceive you as fair and caring, you have enormous potential to create social change in a community. Many parents look at schools for leadership in what to do with their kids and their own lives. You can greatly impact how they raise their kids.”
It’s all part of why she believes so strongly in public education. “I see the miracles happen in it,” she says. “I see what teachers and others do with kids in school, and I stand back in total awe.”
We as a community may find ourselves standing in awe if Zimny accomplishes her goal for Woodrow:
“We want to be a school where all of the students are beating the doors down to get to class.”
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