North’s new principal looks to keep up momentum
North Fort Myers High School opened in 1960 and, in the first 40 years, the school had just three different principals.
It is about to have its fifth in the last six.
Debbie Diggs became the new principal last week after Matt Mederios was promoted after two years during which the school accomplished milestones those who came before him never could have imagined.
Diggs will have a very tough act to follow, but she said she’s ready for this, her first head principal job.
“Becoming a principal was next on my career ladder, something I really looked forward to doing. So, when the call came and I had the opportunity to come to such an amazing school, I jumped at it,” Diggs said. “My kids had graduated from Ida Baker and I was ready to make a career move.”
Diggs had been the assistant principal of curriculum at Ida Baker from the day it opened in 2005 until the end of 2016.
Diggs said having worked under three principals at Baker, she has a comfort level in all operations at the school.
She also said that although she is the fifth principal in six years, North has been able to maintain momentum because of how well run the school is.
“Even with the changes, the school hasn’t skipped a beat. That’s a testament to the structures put in place and the strength of the staff already here,” Diggs said. “Many of the systems are already in place. I have three veteran assistant principals and everyone has done a good job getting us up to speed.”
Diggs will be walking into one of the best high schools in the country. North was named the 108th most rigorous high school in the country by the Washington Post, placing it among the top 1 percent.
Still, the school dropped to a “B” grade on the state level as a result of tougher standards and the way the grades are calculated.
“It’s always an honor for a school to be ranked in any type of poll. It speaks to the work our teachers and students do,” Diggs said. “It’s a challenge to find out the standards the state is looking for. Most schools experienced a drop and that’s not unusual. It means we have work to do in finding out what the state wants.”
Being hired so close to the start of school. Diggs has had to get up to speed with the students. On Wednesday, she met with the new freshmen for their open house, and on Saturday, there was an open house for all students, where she met with them and their parents.
Diggs was impressed that many of the students introduced themselves to her and that they had a handle on their career choices and the classes they need.
“The freshmen were eager. A mix of confidence and nerves. We had a freshmen orientation, so a lot of those nerves have dissipated,” Diggs said.
In her first week Diggs was impressed by the passion the staff brought to their work.
“Every conversation I have with staff, everyone is focused on doing what’s best for kids and providing great opportunities for them, whether in the classroom, in the arts or on the field,” Diggs said. “That passion to me is most important for kids and what I’m looking for with staff.”