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David Douglas administrator selected 2021 Oregon Assistant Principal of the Year

SALEM, Ore. – LaShawanta Spears, Assistant Principal of Alice Ott Middle School in the David Douglas School District, has been named the Oregon 2021 Assistant Principal of the Year.  Spears was selected by her peers in the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA), and is now one of 50 finalists for the National Assistant Principal of the Year award.

Spears began her administrative career in 2016 as an assistant principal of Fir Ridge Campus, the David Douglas alternative high school.  In 2017, she became assistant principal at Alice Ott.  Previously, Spears worked as a school counselor, an instructional assistant and an AmeriCorp volunteer.

During her four years at Alice Ott, Spears’s leadership has had a significant impact on student achievement and behavior, as well as staff development.  She led the transition of the district’s Structured Learning Program for Behavior from Fir Ridge to Alice Ott as a fully inclusive model.  In its first year at Alice Ott, state achievement scores for students in the program increased by 50-100 points, and referrals and suspensions decreased substantially.  Spears has also led staff development around de-escalation and supporting students with behavior needs, culturally responsive teaching practices, equity, and trauma-informed practices.

“Taye is an amazing educator and person who continually leads through the lens of ‘what is best for students’," said David Douglas Superintendent Ken Richardson. “Taye’s heart and belief in her students is evident in her work as an educator. Her leadership, her passion, her strength, her voice all make Alice Ott Middle School and the David Douglas School District better places.  I am not sure I have the words to express how fortunate the David Douglas School District is to have Taye as an administrator. She is a true asset to the education profession, and I look forward to all of her future work to support students, families, and her colleagues.”

Spears is the first David Douglas administrator to be certified in restorative practices.  She launched the first African American Family Night at Fir Ridge, which has evolved into a Multicultural Night at Alice Ott.  She started the first Black Student Union for middle school students.  Spears has served at the state level as a member of the COSA Board of Directors since 2017, and was a founding member of the COSA Equity Board in 2018.

“LaShawanta’s leadership has been truly meaningful not only in her school, but also at the state level over the past five years,” OASSA President Majalise Tolan said.  “And, over the past year, during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and social and racial justice awakening, she has set an amazing example for all of us.  She and her daughter organized a large and peaceful social justice march, she has delivered food boxes, and she has conducted home visits to deliver technology and build strong connections with students and families.  She is the epitome of an outstanding school administrator.”

“Taye is a great leader who has had a profound and positive impact on the work of our organization and the supports we provide to our members,” COSA Executive Director Craig Hawkins said.  “Through her leadership on the COSA Board and the COSA Equity Board, we have experienced a period of exciting program and membership growth, conducted a statewide equity summit to capacity audiences for the past three years, and developed consistent supports for Oregon administrators of color.”

Spears will be honored at the annual COSA Seaside Conference in June and at the Statewide Principals Conference in October.  She will also be honored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).


About COSA and OASSA

The Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) serves and represents more than 2,500 school administrators, managers and executives.  COSA was founded in 1974 to give Oregon's education leaders a united voice in helping to shape public policy, advocate for schools and speak on behalf of students. In addition to advocacy, COSA supports and develops educational leaders with professional development opportunities -- including statewide conferences, regional seminars and workshops, and much more -- and a number of exclusive member services. Areas of focus include school finance and legislative services. A member-driven umbrella organization, COSA is governed by an elected Board of Directors that represents the organization's four Departments: the Oregon Association of School Executives (OASE), the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators (OASSA), the Oregon Elementary School Principals Association (OESPA) and the Oregon Association of Central Office Administrators (OACOA).  For more information, visit