Introducing Assistant Principal Dr. Brenda Sanders
Introducing Assistant Principal Dr. Brenda Sanders
Posted on 09/07/2016
Introducing Assistant Principal Dr. Brenda Sanders

Brenda Sanders brings energy, a belief in lifelong learning, and a strong desire to help students develop positive skills in her new role with the Puyallup School District.

She is the new assistant principal at Ridgecrest and Sunrise elementary schools and promises to be an advocate for students as they develop safe, responsible, and respectful practices.

Sanders came to the district last February as a substitute teacher. As a long-time educator with her doctorate in education, she soon became an administrative intern and a substitute principal at various schools throughout the district.

One of many strengths Dr. Sanders brings to the district as assistant principal includes her ability to build relationships with students, parents, and staff. “I have a genuine capacity to build relationships. I love people. I love talking to people. That’s a part of who I am. I like to smile and I like to laugh,” she says when describing herself.

Dr. Brenda Sanders

Personal Philosophy

Sanders believes in modeling the behavior she expects by communicating with students in a mutually respectful manner. It is important to treat students with the same respect that you want to be treated with. This educator stresses using positive techniques to help children correct their behavior. “It doesn’t have to be punitive. It can be guided, such as having students reflect on behavior by drawing before and after pictures that illustrate ‘this is what I did’ (for before), and ‘this is what I could have done’ (for after),” states Sanders.

“We need to assist children in constantly
thinking and reflecting on their behavior.” 

                                                                  Dr. Sanders

Changing the way students view being sent to the office into a positive experience is a philosophy she plans on utilizing as assistant principal. “I want to help students develop skills that help them correct the behavior. A referral should mean ARR development assistance. That is, the office should be an extension of the classroom where students are sent to get more assistance in developing into being always safe, respectful, and responsible,” she adds.

Brenda Sanders and Ridgecrest Office Manager Marsha Stewart

Dr. Sanders’ childhood experiences left her with compassion for students and a sensitivity to children with special needs. As a child, Sanders spent her early years not being able to clearly communicate with people. “When I started school I had a hearing problem which resulted in not being able to talk clearly. I was a ‘pull-out’ child. Speech teachers taught me how to speak so people could understand what I was saying. I know what it’s like not to be properly identified because I lived it. They never figured out that I could not hear. They just treated the symptom. This was very frustrating. I tried with everything I had to talk so people could understand me, but a lot of the time, it wasn’t enough. There are children like me in classrooms today. This is what fuels me to be an educator,” Sanders exclaimed.

“I know what it’s like not to be properly identified because I lived it. They never figured out that
 I could not hear.
They just treated the symptom. This was very frustrating.”                      

                                                                         Dr. Sanders

Meeting and getting to know the staff are a priority for Sanders. She had the opportunity to work at Ridgecrest last spring and was able to meet staff and parents. “Last year, I had the opportunity to talk with parents and have a connection with students and staff,” she said. Her plan is to build on those connections at Ridgecrest and create new connections at Sunrise.

As Dr. Sanders begins her new position working at two schools with two different principals, she noted there are many new and exciting things to learn. For example, she looks forward to working with Schoology, the new learning management system, Smarter Balanced, Teacher, Principal, Evaluation (TPEP) and Response to Intervention (RTI).  Sanders said she intends to listen and learn from both school communities.


Sanders began her teaching career in Inglewood, California after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Cal State, Long Beach. She only intended to teach for one year before pursuing a career in journalism. That didn’t happen. It soon became clear that she was a natural-born educator and had a passion for teaching and learning.

After moving to Oregon where she lived for 15 years (Eugene and West Linn), Sanders went on to earn her Master’s in Teaching from Pacific University and her Doctorate in Education from George Fox University.

She is the author of a book titled Educationally Correct Academically Sound: Fueling School Programs and Academic Achievement, published through Rowman & Littlefield.

Dr. Sanders moved to Washington in November 2014. Six months later, her mother came to live with her due to diminishing health. Prior to that, Sanders lived in Paris, France for a year and a half after her daughter graduated from Grad school there.

She grew up in Hammond, Indiana in a family of eight children raised by a single mother. She commended her mother for teaching them to have a good work ethic. “In spite of being born with polio and losing her mother in childbirth, my mother worked very hard—three jobs at one point. She wanted us to have something better than what she had. We reaped the benefits of all her hard work,” said Sanders.

“Family is a big piece for me. It is always important to have my priorities in order,” she added.

A partner in education

Sanders said a typical day for her is to be out among the students and in the classrooms. She greets the students outside as they arrive at school. If she notices a student who looks sad or different than normal, she will make it a point to check in with the student during the day. She lets children know if they need to talk about anything she will listen. “It goes back to building relationships,” she said.

When asked what her first communication to parents this school year will be Sanders replied, “We are partners in your child’s education. As a partner, I want the same thing that you want for your child. I want elementary school to be a foundation for them that’s so strong they can continue to build on after they leave elementary school.”