The Palo Alto United School District Board approved the selection of Middleton, Wisc. high school principal and Northern Illinois University alumna Denise Herrmann as the new principal at Palo Alto California’s Gunn High School.
“I am extremely proud to be selected as the principal of Gunn High School,” Herrmann said in a statement. “Throughout the interview process my interactions with students, staff, parents and community members were positive, meaningful and focused on developing each student as a whole person. I believe this leadership position fits me well.”
Herrmann began her career in 1991, teaching science at St. Charles High School. She became assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at St. Charles North High School in 2000 and continued there until 2006, when she was named principal at Middleton High School, where she has served ever since.
As an administrator, she initiated several curriculum efforts such as Understanding by Design and Professional Learning Communities for the staff, along with working closely with community groups to create positive partnerships that provide interventions and opportunities to students.
While Herrmann was at MHS, the school was named a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School in 2012, was ranked the third-best public high school in the state by Newsweek in 2013, had a composite ACT score of 25.5 each of the past two years and had a district-record 17 National Merit Semifinalists in 2013.
Herrmann earned three NIU degrees: her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and a doctorate in education in 2002, with an emphasis on administration and curriculum leadership.
“Dr. Herrmann was enthusiastically supported by the Gunn teachers, students, parents, and staff members who were part of the principal selection committee,” said superintendent Kevin Skelly. “Her years of experience leading a school similar to Gunn will serve the students and school community well. I have rarely seen a closer match between a candidate’s skills and the expressed desires of a school community.”