By ARDEN BASTIA Bishop Hendricken High School has named Natalie Kessimian as the new assistant principal, the first female academic administrator in the school's history. Kessimian's role will focus on the whole of the academic experience for students,
Bishop Hendricken High School has named Natalie Kessimian as the new assistant principal, the first female academic administrator in the school’s history.
Kessimian’s role will focus on the whole of the academic experience for students, with particular emphasis on curriculum assessment, instructional technology, and faculty professional development.
In a recent interview, Kessimian said she’s “excited to work with the teachers, and help more students. I just want to be helpful. There’s a lot of collaboration among teachers, and I don’t know what’s to come, but I’m excited for it.”
Kessimian, a Cranston native, received her BA in elementary education and special education from Providence College and her MS in school administration from Simmons College. She spent time teaching in Boston as a first grade special education teacher, and was in the classroom for about six years.
“My principal was the one who got me into administration,” said Kessimian in an interview. “She was a great mentor, and a great principal, and encouraged me to take more and more leadership roles.”
After her time in Boston, Kessimian and her husband, Trevor Yingling, returned to Cranston to be closer to her sister and brother, a Hendricken alumnus, who also live in the area. Kessimian now has two children, ages 8 and 5. It was upon her return to the state that she considered taking on an administrative role.
“The position of director of the options program came up, and when I researched it, it really interested me. My passion is helping students with different learning abilities, and I thought it would be a great stepping stone,” she said.
Kessimian has been a Hendricken faculty member since 2014. During her tenure, she has served as a strong advocate for students of all learning types and levels, especially those in need of academic support. As director of the Options Program, then director of Academic Support Services, Kessimian says her roles have all been about “meeting students where they are.”
“This is a great opportunity for me to work more closely with teachers, and really talk about instruction and curriculum,” she said. “I want to work with more students, at all levels, and get to know what they struggle with and help them.”
According to a press release issued by Hendricken, Kessimian’s first major task will be an extensive review of the school’s curriculum across all academic departments in order to provide the most up-to-date instruction to the school’s 650-plus students.
“We’re going to look at where the pandemic has left us, and where the students are coming in at and with. With everything that’s been going on, we want to make sure we’re covering what we need to cover and using more data-driven instruction to make sure we’re learning and growing,” she said.
Like any other school, the pandemic presented its challenges to Hendricken students and staff.
“It’s really hard to reach students when they’re not physically in front of you,” said Kessimian. “Our teachers were amazing, and did a great job, whether hybrid or in person. But it was a challenge to keep kids involved and motivated.”
While there are still some hybrid and virtual learners, most of Hendricken’s student body is back to full time, in-person learning.
“I think it’s better to have the boys here, and be able to talk to them and see them in the hallways,” she said. “And now we’re able to do more stuff on campus, like graduation. The incoming freshmen are going to get a massive welcome. I think it just brings the community together.”
To see sports, like the unified teams, return to playing games brings Kessimian “so much joy.”
“These events are so important, to really enjoy time with each other outside of the classroom,” she said.
In addition to her new role as assistant principal, Kessimian also oversees the Bishop Hendricken Bridge Program, Academic Support Center, the College Prep (CP) Program, and Academic Probation. She also serves on the Student Support Team, School Improvement Team, Academic Council, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Admissions Review Committee, and the NEASC Accreditation Steering Committee.
“You could not find an individual as sharp and enthusiastic about helping our boys succeed than Mrs. Kessimian,” said Hendricken principal Mark DeCiccio in the press release. “She has a proven track record of cultivating academically enriching programs and bringing them to new heights, as evidenced by her leadership of the Options Program, Academic Support Services, and more. As with everything she does, Mrs. Kessimian always keeps students experience as her top priority. She’s the perfect fit for this new opportunity.”
When she isn’t working with students, Kessimian says she’s “usually at the zoo with my two boys,” or spending time with her family.