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Susan Page, assistant principal at Aviano High School, helps a student with algebra during a lunch-duty shift earlier this week. Page was selected as the top assistant principal for middle and high schools by the Department of Defense Education Activity.
Susan Page, assistant principal at Aviano High School, helps a student with algebra during a lunch-duty shift earlier this week. Page was selected as the top assistant principal for middle and high schools by the Department of Defense Education Activity. (Kent Harris / S&S)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Susan Page has viewed the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system from several angles.

Growing up as the daughter of a sailor, she attended school while her dad went on long deployments. While married to an active-duty airman, she taught in the system. And, for the last seven years, she’s been an administrator.

“I’ve kind of seen it from all sides,” said Page, the assistant principal at Aviano High School and the Department of Defense Education Activity’s 2003-04 assistant principal of the year for middle and high schools.

Her perspective is also shaped by being the mother of DODDS pupils. She has three daughters attending classes at Aviano at all three levels — elementary, middle and high schools.

“It’s tough being a teenager,” she said. “I think I relate pretty well with these kids, because of my past experiences.”

Page said the students at the school, as well as their parents and the teachers who work there, all share her honor.

“It’s pretty easy to look good here,” she said.

Principal Doug McEnery said that no one gets such an honor without a reason, though.

“She’s an excellent assistant principal,” he said. “She works hard. She really cares about kids. And, like me, she’s trying to make Aviano the best school in DODDS.”

McEnery and Page also shared a classroom at Aviano for several years. Page taught math and McEnery taught English in a college prep class. This year, Page teaches an algebra lab every day before lunch.

“I have to take attendance and keep grades, just like everyone else,” she says with a smile.

The class isn’t necessarily a part of her duties as assistant principal. But she said she didn’t have to have her arm twisted to take it. In fact, while teaching at schools in the States and DODDS facilities in Naples, Italy, and Bad Kreuznach, Germany, she struggled with the idea of giving up teaching to take on administrative duties.

Like many teachers, she’s collected boxes and boxes of material over the years, and “it took several years before I was able to depart with all the teaching stuff.”

Page said she became an administrator because she thought that she could have a greater impact on more students than staying in a single classroom.

Her first assignment in that capacity was at Vilseck in Germany in 1998. She’s been at Aviano since 2000.

She said she hopes to stay in her current position through the end of the next school year — when her oldest daughter graduates — and eventually try running a school.

“I’d like to be a principal,” she said.

Page says she’s not sure if there was a single reason she was chosen as one of the top 52 assistant principals in the American education system (all 50 states plus DODEA and the District of Columbia). But she appreciates the recognition.

“It’s pretty overwhelming,” she said during a lunch break at the school, in between handing out some algebra tips to students.

“Any time you’re recognized by your peers on this level is really an honor.”

Migrated
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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