Dr. D’Ana Waters’ journey to Assistant Superintendent

Dr.+D%27Ana+Waters+with+members+of+the+Hatfield+faculty.+%28Pre-COVID%29

Submitted Photo

Dr. D’Ana Waters with members of the Hatfield faculty. (Pre-COVID)

On March 18th, during the North Penn School Board’s action meeting, school board member Dr. Elisha Gee officially motioned for the appointment of Dr. D’Ana Waters to become the district’s Assistant Superintendent. The unanimous 9-0 vote ratified what was a long time coming.

Her first role at North Penn however, will come as a surprise to many– well, not the role, but the location.

“I started in North Penn as an English as a Second Language (ESL) assistant at Hatfield Elementary. I worked in a closet at Hatfield elementary upstairs across from where fifth grade is, believe it or not,” Dr. Waters explained jokingly.

During her first tenure at Hatfield, she was finishing up her certification in elementary education. But her first goal was far from it.

“Initially, I went to college to become a newscaster. So my dream was to be on like channel six, like as an anchor or a woman doing the news,” Dr. Waters said.

“I started working at a daycare and I just really fell in love with working with kids. But at the time, I was too close to graduating, and it didn’t really make sense to kind of start over. I had some jobs in communication, none of them were on TV like I had hoped, and I ended up just deciding to go back to school to get my master’s in elementary education and get certified to teach. So while I was an ESL assistant, I was just about done finishing my coursework up and the following year, I became an elementary teacher at Oak Park Elementary. I taught fifth grade there for a while and loved it,” Dr. Waters explained furthermore.

Sometime during her years at Oak Park, Waters did a fast track program at the University of Pennsylvania to get a principal certification, where she learned about how administrations operate in regards to education. Soon after, another opportunity arose for her in the district, which was to become a teacher on special assignment.

“With the teacher on assignment, I was able to get some real hands-on experience and practice of what it would be like to become a principal. I was over at Montgomery Elementary for about six months and I actually shared the classroom with another teacher, who was also interested in administration. And so I taught the fifth graders the first half of the year, while he went over and worked with the principal, and then we switched. After that, I came back to Oak Park and I taught second grade, and then another opportunity presented itself. And that was to be another teacher on special assignment at Penndale Middle School,” Waters said.

“I always wanted a middle school experience. I knew that at some point I wanted to be an administrator, and I felt it was very important for me to not just have the elementary lens, but to also have the secondary lens. And so the opportunity at Penndale was amazing because again, I wasn’t assistant to the principal, but I pretty much did a lot of what the assistant principals did. So I really was kind of all in,” Waters explained.

Then in the summer of 08’, Waters got her big break from then Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Curt Dietrich. She would return to where she started her educational career; Hatfield Elementary. Not in a closet, but in the Principal’s office.

“I was at Hatfield for 11 years and was probably one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. The whole Hatfield community was so welcoming and supportive, from the students who I adored, their families, the teachers are just top-notch, the staff there, everybody. It was just an incredible, incredible ride. I was planning to just stay there even longer! And I know 11 years is a long time to be a principal in one place, but I was really happy there,” Waters explained.

The whole Hatfield community was so welcoming and supportive, from the students who I adored, their families, the teachers are just top-notch, the staff there, everybody. It was just an incredible, incredible ride.”

— Dr. D'Ana Waters

Right before her departure from Hatfield, Dr. Waters received the 2018 Superintendent Honor Roll Award from Dr. Dietrich. The award is given each year to nominated and selected employees who dedicate their time and talent in ways that go above and beyond to make North Penn a better place.

In 2018, Waters was honored by Superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich with the Superintendent Honor Roll award.

 

And in July of 2019, Dr. Waters left Hatfield to become the district Director of Curriculum and Equity.

“I was really interested in the equity piece to be very honest. And that’s because for many, many years in the district, I have always worked on our committee called the Cultural Proficiency and Equity Executive Committee, where we have always looked at our practices and policies and, I really care about all of the kids at North Penn. Every time I take a new position, it’s really so that I can try to reach even more people. When you go from a teacher, you touch those in your classroom. When you become a principal, you can have an impact on the building, and when you work at this level, it’s more of an entire district,” Waters said.

Fast forward two years later, when Waters finally feels like she’s getting the hang of things, the new role of Assistant Superintendent arises.

“It still feels very surreal. I’m still wrapping my head around it. And every time I see my face on social media, I’m just like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ I don’t like the picture. I don’t really like the picture,” Waters joked. “But at any rate, I’m excited and I’m really honored.”

Dr. Waters’ climb through the district should serve as an inspiration to those who wish to walk that same path– but what’s her secret?

“I just try to continue to learn and grow– I believe in being a lifelong learner and that’s what I think I am. When I went to get my doctorate degree back in 2012, it was just a personal goal that I had. I never necessarily thought that this was going to be in my future. Sometimes opportunities are there and you have to take them and push yourself and challenge yourself to do more and do better. And that’s kinda what I’m hoping I will be able to do. I hope that I’ll be able to now have an even greater impact and, and to reach more people and just hoping to try to keep up with Dr. Bauer over there, because he is phenomenal,” Waters said.

I believe in being a lifelong learner and that’s what I think I am. When I went to get my doctorate degree back in 2012, it was just a personal goal that I had. I never necessarily thought that this was going to be in my future. Sometimes opportunities are there and you have to take them and push yourself and challenge yourself to do more and do better. And that’s kinda what I’m hoping I will be able to do.”

— Dr. Waters

“I’ve worked in so many schools, I’ve met so many people in North Penn and we’re so lucky and so fortunate because it’s such a great place to work with so many awesome people. Just having a chance to build so many relationships has just meant everything to me. I love getting to know people and I love just being able to serve students. And again, I just feel honored and privileged to be a part of the North Penn community, as long as I have,” Waters expressed.

With her term beginning July 1st of this year, there is a lot to expect from Dr. Waters.

“Identifying and addressing skill gaps is on my agenda as well. So one of the things that we’re working on currently is making sure that we have some summer programming available to students so that they can have an opportunity to kind of dig a little deeper with some of the concepts they didn’t get to go as deep within the class. So I really want to make sure that, you know, our students are ready to go and have what they need,” Waters explained.

Also, a lot will remain the same.

“They can expect me to still be that same person they’ve always known who really enjoys getting to know people, who puts students first, and who is very much interested in building relationships. I hope that I will still have a hand in all of the equity work that we’ve been doing to make sure that all of our students in our district have opportunities and access to our curriculum. And also that all of our students just feel included and safe and in our schools,” Waters said.

It will be interesting to see what’s next in store for Dr. Waters in the next coming years. Hatfield, Oak Park, Montgomery, Penndale, back to Hatfield, and then to the District level– it just seems like plateauing isn’t an option.

“Just stay true to yourself and dream big, like really dream big, because you can really do anything you put your mind to. Just be open, really try to figure out what your passion is. And then try to find something in that area that you care about because work should be fun. Work should not be something you dread. Find your passion dream big. Don’t ever say never and be ready with options,” Dr. Waters concluded.