Sanders: We have just as much to learn from students

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Paige Sanders



Where you work:


What you do:


Where did you grow up?

Douglas, Wyoming

If you attended college, where and what did you study?

• University of Wyoming – Bachelor of Science in health and physical education with a middle school endorsement

• Adams State College – Master of Science in counseling with an endorsement in school counseling

• University of Wyoming – Endorsement in school administration

How did you end up working as a school principal?

After being the school counselor at Woodland Park Elementary for six years and assisting three different principals in three years in their duties as principal and trying to meet the needs of Woodland Park, as we do not have assistant principals at the elementary level, I had a strong desire to take on this particular role. The need for consistency and impact this had on the school was a driving force to make a positive difference in the school culture and a strong desire to help meet the needs of all the students. I have been the principal at Woodland Park for the past five years.

Working with children must be a challenge and an inspiration. What is the best part of the job?

When a child reaches their goal through continued growth, never once giving up, you see the look of excitement and pure joy come across their face, believing what the teacher has believed in them all along, that they are capable of anything. The overall drive to empower and inspire students to have a growth mindset and to reach their full potential is extremely rewarding. This drive of student empowerment has the potential to further develop the students’ own growth as they continue their academic path. The long term progression of each student is not only valuable from an educational standpoint, but very gratifying on a personal level, as well.

Working with children’s parents and families also must be a challenge at times. What advice would you give to parents who want to be involved in their kids’ education but don’t want to overstep with teachers?

We truly are in this together! Parents should think of their child’s education as a collaborative team approach. It is important to remember that just as the parent wants what’s best for their child, the teachers want what’s best for our students. We are extremely fortunate to work with a team of experts in our schools, constantly looking for ways to build their capacity to meet the needs of all students. The more we can work together and collaborate on what best meets the needs of each child, the greater growth we make. Open communication is critical and the more we work together the better it is for the child.

You’ve worked in a couple different schools in Sheridan County. How does the culture of the schools shape the success of the students?

The students and staff are a product of the school’s culture. Having a positive school culture is critical! Students and staff thrive in a safe, trusting, environment focused on growth and a love for learning.

What we model as staff has a direct impact on the students and is always focused on what’s best for the students! I feel if it’s not what’s best for my own children then it’s not what’s best for any other parent’s children.

How do you unplug/unwind?

• Family time with my husband Doug, and three girls (Kylan, Alexa and Dalaney), taking trips as a family, camping as a family, hiking and more.

• Time spent laughing with family and friends is always a great way to unwind, as laughter is just good for the soul.

• Running and being physically active through yoga, mindfulness, massage therapy, kickboxing, TRX and more allow for clarity and stress reduction.

As legislators and administrators talk about the future of funding for K-12 education in the state, what is one thing you hope they remember as they make decisions?

We need to shift the conversation from funding to improving student learning across Wyoming. In Sheridan, we have schools that continue to demonstrate sustained excellence year after year.

Visiting any school in Sheridan is a trip worth making and offers any visitor a chance to collaborate with successful educators. One example, was through our Principal’s Academy. Our collaboration with Natrona and Park County School Districts was an insightful experience for all parties involved and allowed for continued growth to ensure high levels of learning for all students in Sheridan, Natrona and Park Counties.

We all joke about “kids these days.” What aspects of the upcoming generations give you hope for our future?

Their drive to succeed and grow as a learner! They are very motivated and want to do their best. We just have to empower and inspire our children to reach their full potential as they are more than capable of doing so. I am always amazed at the strengths our children come to us with and how we build on those strengths allows for greater success. The power of collaborating with our children is a driving force for next steps in education. We have so much to learn from them, just as they do from us! 

By |Jun. 16, 2018|

About the Author:

Mike moved to Sheridan from Indianapolis, Indiana. Family and his passion for sports brought Mike to the Cowboy State, where he began working as the sports editor for the Sheridan Press in June of 2014.


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