Department of Defense Education Activity

Former Zama American High School teacher returns as new Principal

For Immediate Release — May 11, 2012 | Pacific

CAMP ZAMA, JAPAN — May 11, 2012 —  

   Mr. Bruce Derr
TOKYO — (2009) Bruce Derr
returns to Zama American High
School where he previously served
as a teacher and coach from 1974-1983.
(DoDEA Pacific/Released).

No hall pass required for Bruce Derr as he returns to Zama American High School with a new title: Principal. Derr previously served as a Health and Physical Education teacher at ZAHS from 1974-1983. He also coached football, wrestling, cross country and girls volleyball while teaching at ZAHS.

Derr taught at public schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania prior to joining the Department of Defense Education Activity in 1970. In addition to teaching and coaching, Derr also served several DoDEA schools in Japan and Okinawa as assistant principal and principal. Following three years as the assistant superintendent of the DoDEA Japan District, he was named the superintendent and served seven more years in that position before retiring in 2009. 

Yet, even retirement could not keep Derr away. A leadership change at ZAHS in January prompted a search for a new principal. Prior to Derr’s arrival on April 30, Yokota High School Principal Darrell Mood assumed temporary duties at ZAHS until the principal recruitment process was complete. During his brief stewardship of ZAHS, Mood worked with the faculty and support staff to improve academic scheduling, student transportation, community outreach, staff collaboration and opportunities in athletics and activities for students. On Monday, Mood returned to his regular duties at Yokota High School located on Yokota Air Base. 

Derr felt a special calling to return to the Camp Zama community, “It’s the only school I would come back for” he told the ZAHS faculty when he arrived on April 30. 

Derr inherits a school primed and eager to improve in the areas of professional collaboration, student support and academic achievement. “I plan to work collaboratively on school improvement with all school community members so that Zama American High School becomes one of the most outstanding schools in DoDEA,” said Derr. 

Representing a rich and proud history of student success, Zama American High School first opened in 1958. Today, ZAHS serves nearly 280 students from U.S. military and Department of Defense civilian families assigned to Camp Zama, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, and the Sagamihara Housing Area and Depot all located in the outskirts of the Tokyo metropolitan area. 

Derr’s distinguished career includes recognition of Kinnick High School in Yokosuka, Japan, while serving as the principal during the 1988-1989 school year, for Excellence in Education by the U.S. Department of Education and Excellence in Geography Education by the National Geographic Society; and his selection as the 1998- 99 DoDEA Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals/METLife while serving as the Edgren High School principal in Misawa, Japan. 

A native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Derr holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from East Stroudsburg State College and a Master of General Administration degree from the University of Maryland. His experience with DoDEA schools goes well beyond his nearly 40 years of service as an employee: Derr is married with two grown and successful children who graduated from DoDEA schools. 

In reflecting on his new assignment, Derr explained that he plans to focus on fostering a positive teaching and learning climate at ZAHS, “Zama American High School will become an even more warm, inviting place for all--one in which we develop the whole child academically, socially, physically and emotionally.”

About DoDEA Pacific:
DoDEA Pacific provides a comprehensive preK-12 education to the children of military and eligible civilian personnel families serving throughout Asia. The 49 schools in DoDEA Pacific are comprised of more than 24,000 students and 3,100 full-time professional educators and support staff. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.

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Pacific Public Affairs

The DoDEA Pacific Public Affairs Office initiates and manages DoDEA's communications and outreach efforts for the Pacific to include Guam, Japan, Okinawa, South Korea. The office is responsible for media relations, internal information programs and communication with students, parents, teachers, school administrators and the public.

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