Denver Public School announced this afternoon that Amy Bringedahl has been selected to be the principal of Northfield High School starting the 2016-17 school year.
Bringedahl is currently the principal at Merrill Middle School. During her 23-year career, she has been a middle and high school social studies teacher, basketball, volleyball and track coach, Athletic Director, Assistant Principal and Principal. At Merrill, which has 42 percent second language learners, she has focused on creating a strong community of parents and staff so all students are supported. She plans to continue her efforts for an inclusive, diverse community at Northfield.
How does it feel to be chosen for this position?
It’s hard to put into words. It’s exciting because of the potential of Northfield. Walking through the school and meeting kids and the staff and seeing their passion, is just unbelievably amazing and exciting for me. I’ve had the honor of meeting several community members and hearing their hopes for the school to be a place where there are not only strong academics, but afterschool activities, an athletic program… there is so much opportunity and potential at this school.
At the community forum during the selection process, you mentioned how strongly you support extracurricular and athletics. Can you reiterate why those are important?
I was one of those kids who, without athletics, I would have struggled even more in high school. I was disengaged…Athletics engaged me in school and kept me focused. It was the eligibility piece but also the things I learned being on a team—camaraderie, leadership, being there for each other. It left its mark on me and shifted my entire attitude my junior and senior years. Kids need something that is going to engage them and capture them into academics. It promotes a well-rounded student. I believe students should have exposure to many things before they decide what they want to pursue.
It’s interesting you say you were disengaged at the beginning of high school. You would expect educators to love school from the beginning. What was happening at that time?
To be honest, I was disengaged because in seventh grade, I was in a language arts classroom, and my teacher at the time was asking questions and I was looking out the window. She had asked me a question and I couldn’t respond. She said, “What are you dumb?” That led to the disengagement. That one statement from a teacher, I get emotional about it even now, because that one statement shut me down for the next two to three years. It wasn’t until I really became involved in athletics and became close to coaches that I really understood the value of what I brought to a team and understood the value of me as a person.
It was my eleventh-grade language arts teacher Pat O’Toole who saw something in me and created a friendship that pushed and engaged me in academics. That was the first time I thought about teaching. I wanted to emulate her.
How do you think Northfield is different or similar to other schools you’ve worked with?
It’s similar in the diversity. Diversity is one of the reasons I’ve chosen to work in Denver because I truly believe in a diverse educational environment for all kids and the progressive nature of Denver. I love to think outside of the box, and that’s what Denver brings and that’s what Northfield brings.
What do you want the Northfield and surrounding communities to know at this point?
I am deeply committed to do doing the work at Northfield. I am deeply committed to them and their students. I don’t shy away from anything and I take a challenge head on and really looking forward to working with them and building a world-class school for all kids.
A last wacky question, what is the most treasured item you have on your desk?
I’m actually playing with it now. It’s a squish ball. It’s a stress relief ball that I gave to my entire staff at the beginning of the year. And then what I have that I look at everyday is Play Like a Champion Today Poster that my dean of culture put together for me that has pictures from every staff member. It says, “ Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way that things turn out.” That means a lot to me. My mother was diagnosed with cancer last year. My Dean of Culture put that together for me when I came back.
Bringedahl is committed to Merrill through the end of the school year, but also committed to getting to know the Northfield community. She will sit down with Northfield Interim Principal Ron Constagna next week to set a plan for the coming months, including steps toward IB certification, recruiting and hiring staff, and community building. Read the April Front Porch for this information and more.