When Kristi Ridgell took a job as the district’s elementary school principal two years ago, she walked into many responsibilities, giving multi-tasking a new meaning.
She is the district superintendent, elementary school principal, pre-kindergarten director, parent coordinator, and she oversees the district’s 21st Century Grant.
“I am a hard worker and very determined,” Ridgell said. “I give it my all at everything I do. I can multi-task.”
Ridgell, who holds a master’s degree in secondary education, plans to pursue a doctorate degree in education. She is a graduate of Monticello High School, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the University of Arkansas at Monticello, and is currently enrolled at Henderson State University pursuing an educational specialist degree.
The daughter of a retired English teacher and the superintendent of the McGehee School District, Ridgell says her parents are her role models. “I have seen my parents grow into professional educators,” she said. “I have patterned myself after my dad.”
Because both parents have a Dermott connection, Ridgell says they are somewhat nostalgic about her position with the Dermott School District. Her mother, who taught at Dermott, Warren, Hamburg, and Watson Chapel, began her 40-year teaching career at Dermott while her father’s first principal job was at Dermott.
“They have guided me in making good decisions to become a productive and successful citizen in today’s society,” said Ridgell.
From a close-knit and supportive family, Ridgell, who has two siblings—a brother who works at FedEx in Memphis, Tenn., and a sister who is a literacy facilitator for the Lakeside School District in Lake Village—says family time is highly valued. “We find time in the evening after school, where we talk about our day,” she said. “We also have Soul Food Sunday after church, where the family comes over to eat. We also have conversations about the week and the upcoming week. We have family time during all holidays. Those are very special to my family.”
Ridgell’s vision for the future of the Dermott School District is to see the same level of rigor and high achievement that she brings to the district exemplified at every school in the district. “My goals are to change the climate and culture of the district, provide a safe and secure environment that is conducive to learning, to raise student achievement and test scores, and to retain high quality teachers for the district,” she said.
Ridgell said she would not change a thing about her professional journey.
“This has been a perfect career journey,” she said. “I just want to move forward to continue to make a difference in someone’s life.”