SJU graduate honored for his work as assistant principal

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February 6, 2020

By Frank Rajkowski

Ashley standing outside school
Ashley in suit

As the assistant principal at Wayzata Central Middle School in Plymouth, Minnesota, Ashley Farrington is keenly aware he is a role model to students.

Perhaps especially for students of color.

“One of the things I’ve noticed as my career has unfolded is that for some kids, I’ve been their first teacher of color,” said Farrington, a native of the Bahamas and a 2011 graduate of Saint John’s University.

“Or their first administrative assistant, or now their first assistant principal. It’s important for all students to see people of color in those roles. But it’s especially important for students of color to see a positive role model in these types of positions.”

Farrington began his career in the Wayzata Public School District, previously serving as an elementary level teacher and as a student support specialist.

He’s now in his second year in his current position, where his accomplishments have included playing a key role in the school’s work with equity and creating a welcoming and safe environment for all students.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said. “We’re not perfect by any means. But we’re taking the necessary steps toward getting there. Our big thing has been continuing to build relationships, spending time with students and their families. Taking the time to really connect with them.

“We’re trying to stop looking at equity as an extra and just make it a daily part of everything we do. To ask ourselves how everything we do works for every student in our school.”

His efforts have drawn the attention and acclaim of his peers.

Farrington was recently selected as Minnesota’s National Outstanding Assistant Principal, an award presented jointly by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association (MESPA)  and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) – both groups of which Farrington is a member.

He received the award at a banquet Feb. 6 as part of the MESPA Institute 2020 Conference at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota.

He and the other winners from each state will be recognized this July in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I spend a lot of time engaging with our teachers and administrators and have recognized that Ashley is a special young man,” Wayzata superintendent Chace B. Anderson wrote in his letter recommending Farrington for the honor.

“I have found him to be very bright, a high-quality person, an excellent educator and someone with a great future. Ashley is an excellent assistant principal who will one day be an excellent lead principal and likely a district administrator if this is where his career interest evolves.”

Farrington was quick to share the honor with his co-workers at Wayzata Central, as well as with his students and their families.

“I get a lot of credit, but it really just highlights what the staff of our school and our kids are accomplishing every day,” he said.

“I’m grateful for the recognition and it’s an amazing feeling. But if we’re helping make things better for our students, that’s No. 1 for me.”

Farrington said the education and training he received at Saint John’s went a long way toward preparing him to be successful in his career as an educator.

“I’m a kid from the Bahamas who moved up here to attend Saint John’s and I left SJU with a family,” he said.

“I met so many important people to me there. And Saint John’s embedded values like family, brotherhood and helping your neighbor. Those are values I now bring to my work here every day.”