Camelback Principal Selected as Exemplary Rodel Principal

Posted by Community Relations Department on 1/16/2013

Principal Dr. Chad Gestson was selected as an Exemplary Principal by the Rodel Foundation, one of only seven in the state and the only high school principal.  Exemplary Principals provide professional development and mentoring to Rodel Aspiring Principals, creating a pipeline for educators who can eventually lead high-need schools.  Gestson will mentor three principals over a two-year period and receive a small stipend.  

Rodel had a team of former principals and superintendents who identified semifinalists and visited campuses.  Through interviews and observations with the principal and staff, the team looked for evidence of high expectations, a focus on effective teaching and student management strategies. 

“Our greatest source of pride is our campus climate.  When students feel happy, safe and challenged, and the adults on campus are respected, trusted and viewed as leaders in the change process, then the environment is ripe for improvement.  Our gains in academic achievement, graduation rate, scholarship totals and attendance are a result of an amazing climate that the entire community has worked diligently to create,” Gestson said.



Under his leadership, Camelback has instituted an Advisory period, where students meet daily for four years with the same advisor, receiving tutoring, completing coursework and homework, utilizing the library and computer labs, tracking attendance, grades and transcripts, and connecting with peers.  The school created a school-within-a-school called GEARS (Gaming, Engineering, Architecture, Robotics and Sustainability) and opened the first Montessori High School program in Arizona this year.  It started a credit-recovery evening school with on-line curriculum. Gestson also requires all students to join a club or sport, complete community service and attend 15 campus events a year.  Camelback has steadily increased AP and Honors classes, expanded the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, and  instituted early morning and late afternoon library hours,   He created the Camelback College Café and the Camelback College Commons complete with pool tables, ping pong, foosball and air hockey much like a student union building.  Students earn reward points to gain admission.  Camelback founded the Food and Clothing Bank that serves the entire community, and Gestson has reinvigorated the Camelback Alumni Association, and partnered with many local businesses and groups, including Social Venture Partners, which has invested in the school with grants, time and talent.



Gestson won the 2010-2011 Lead and Inspire Award, Urban High School Division, presented by   ASU’s Office of Education partnerships. 



Gestson has been principal at Camelback for four years, and has also been a classroom teacher, and middle school principal before coming to Phoenix Union.  A Teach For America alumnus, Gestson left his family’s construction business to become an educator.  He has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington, two Masters from ASU and Northern Arizona, and an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from NAU.