New Palestine High School Principal Keith Fessler was honored Sunday, Nov. 20 with the prestigious High School Principal of the Year Award from the Indiana Association of School Principals.
Fessler was selected from a group of 12 high school principals representing each district across the state. The IASP gives the award to principals that “reflect the values and commitment essential to the performance of students and growth of our schools across the state of Indiana.” Winners are recognized for leadership in their building, school district, and community.
“This is a great honor and I owe it to the people I work with every day. They are a great group of people. I’m lucky to have them as colleagues,” Fessler said in his acceptance speech.
Fessler has brought a number of successful programs to New Palestine, including several created for students with disabilities. An Essential Skills class helps students with severe disabilities by allowing them to work with other students towards accomplishing goals while learning new tasks.
“Mr. Fessler is all about the kids,” said New Palestine Elementary Principal Katy Eastes. “He puts his entire self into being the principal at New Palestine High School.”
Through a partnership with Easter Seals Crossroads, he started Camp Ability, which New Palestine High School hosts each year. Camp Ability allows students that may not be able to attend a traditional summer camp to spend the day with the New Palestine football team, learning about the game from Dragon football players. The camp enables the kids to interact with others in an environment where they feel encouraged to be themselves.
Fessler brought the Early College program to New Palestine as part of a partnership with Vincennes University. His students have the opportunity to earn an Associate Degree from Vincennes while still in high school.
“Keith creates extraordinary opportunities for the students and staff each day,” said Dr. Lisa Lantrip, Southern Hancock Schools Superintendent. “His dedication to students, staff, and community are evident in the programs he has implemented and his vision for the future. Keith is very deserving of this recognition.”
Fessler has been the principal at NPHS since 2011. He previously served as the school’s assistant principal. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, a Master’s Degree from Ball State University, and an Education Specialist degree from Indiana State University.
Thirty-six elementary, middle, and high school principals were recognized at the event. Three were chosen as State Principals of the Year. Two years ago, New Palestine Junior High School Principal James Voelz won the Middle School Principal of the Year Award.