RSS Principal Alice Lee Named 2020 Principal of the Year

In her nomination for the award, Dr. Lee was commended by her colleagues, district administrators, parents, and educational partners for her exemplary leadership and vision. Her innovative mindset has led to significant achievements as an educational leader.

Dr. Lee promotes commitment to educational quality and student achievement, as well as a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community through her strategically developed and articulated vision for Richmond Street School: “W.A.T.E.R.: We Activate, Transform, and Empower at Richmond.” She empowers and inspires everyone at the school, transforms teaching practices using evidence-based strategies, and works to ensure all students grow into healthy, life-long learners.

She is constantly exploring ways for Richmond Street School’s faculty, staff and administration to better serve students, from applying for grants and lobbying for educational partnerships to creating her own series of professional development workshops for Richmond Street teachers. Dr. Lee seeks out partnerships at a local and national level to expand opportunities for students and staff. She has collaborated with Mattel, Inc. on the Barbie Dream Gap Project to pilot curriculum that builds self-efficacy in young female students. She is also a presenter on a national level for Scholastic, a partnership she has leveraged to bring a Literacy Program, professional development, and resources to Richmond Street staff and students.

ESUSD has adopted Yale University’s RULER Approach, an evidence-based social-emotional learning program. Dr. Lee was an early adopter of the program, implementing and training teachers and students in social emotional intelligence with RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, Regulating). She went above and beyond by sharing the materials she developed with other administrators in the district. She infused RULER and self-regulation of emotion into positive student behavior supports.

“Dr. Lee is a naturally strong and supportive instructional leader. Through relationship-building, she has created a safe, loving culture in her school that allows teachers to take risks and open doors to mutual collaboration to create change for the betterment of the students,” said Marisa Janicek, ESUSD assistant superintendent of educational services. She fostered the formation of educator achievement teams through professional learning communities that resulted in increased student achievement and improved California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) scores significantly over the years.”

Richmond Street School has become a model school for other local elementary schools, hosting 20 school visits in the past two years. Under her leadership, RSS has become a high achieving “workshop” school, with low absentee and suspension rates, and an increasing number of students meeting or exceeding standard math scores. School faculty report high levels of job satisfaction. “One of Dr. Lee’s greatest leadership attributes is her ability to inspire and engage teachers,” said Dylan Farris, ESUSD executive director of human resources and facilities. “She fosters a positive climate and under her direction, Richmond Street School has transformed into the place I often refer to as ‘the happiest school in the district.’”

Dr. Lee’s passion for education is evident in her continuous efforts to build a positive and welcoming school culture for all. “She is an outstanding educational leader who ensures that students, teachers, staff and parents are treated with kindness and respect,” said Dr. Jeanie Nishime, ESUSD Board of Education president. “It is no surprise that 100% of the teachers at Richmond Street School feel it is a supportive and inviting place to work. In addition, 98% of students report that teachers care about them. Dr. Lee promotes a school climate that encourages teachers to collaborate, to innovate, and to regularly discuss student data to improve their educational practice so that every student can succeed.”

Dr. Lee has served as principal of Richmond Street School for nearly five years and previously served as assistant principal at El Segundo Middle School for three years. She is a three-time UCLA graduate with a doctorate degree in educational leadership, a master’s degree in education, and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies specializing in the diversified liberal arts program.


A video about Richmond Street School’s Literacy Program spearheaded by Principal Alice Lee may be viewed here: