Dr. Sandra Whitaker is excited to return to Belgium as the principal at SHAPE American HS. A veteran educator, she believes in the goal of helping each student discover who it is he or she is to become in a dynamic global community. Her leadership style is student-centered with a focus on maximizing opportunities for mastery of 21st century skills that ensure college and career readiness. Dr. Whitaker looks forward to building on the foundation of excellence that exemplifies SHAPE American High School.
Dr. Whitaker began her career with the Department of Defense Education Activity in 2009 as an Instructional Systems Specialist for English Language Arts at DoDEA Headquarters in Washington, DC. She has served DoDEA schools as Assistant Principal at Alconbury Middle High School (England), Acting Principal at Menwith Hill School (England), Assistant Principal at SHAPE American High School (Belgium), and Principal at Wiesbaden High School (Germany), where she opened the first 21st-century-designed high school in DoDEA.
Prior to accepting a position in DoDEA, Dr. Whitaker served both public and private schools in the United States, 1991-2009, as a teacher, building-level administrator, and curriculum specialist. In 1999 and 2008, she earned National Board Certification in the area of Adolescent and Young Adulthood English Language Arts. As the Director of Leadership at The Independent School in Wichita, Kansas, she designed and implemented a leadership program that became a model for other schools to include leadership and service learning components in their school programs. While a curriculum specialist in Albemarle County Schools, Charlottesville, Virginia, Dr. Whitaker led district-wide curriculum re-articulation to develop concept-centered, standards-based curriculum in English Language Arts for grades Pre-K through 12. In addition to these positions, she also served schools in Georgia and Colorado.
Throughout her career, Dr. Whitaker has held many leadership positions in state and national professional organizations. As a faculty member for the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development Faculty Program, she provided staff development in the areas of literacy, curriculum development, and instructional practice. Dr. Whitaker also presented on the literacy topics at numerous local, state, and national conferences. In addition to authoring articles for peer-reviewed professional journals, she published two books in the education field. Advocacy for School Leaders: Becoming a Strong Voice for Education was released by Rowman and Littlefield Education in 2007, and Word Play: Building Vocabulary across Texts and Disciplines was released by Heinemann in 2008.
A lifelong learner, Dr. Whitaker earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Speech Communications from Metropolitan State College of Denver. In the area of Educational Leadership, she earned both a Masters of Education degree and an Education Specialist degree from the University of West Georgia. Dr. Whitaker completed doctoral studies in Curriculum and Instruction and holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Virginia.
Personally she is an avid reader and amateur photographer. She enjoys traveling, music, and art. Dr. Whitaker and her family are excited to return to the SHAPE community. Her husband, Jeff, is a computer programmer and golf enthusiast. Their daughter, Josie, is studying creative writing at North Park University in Chicago. Their son, Michael, will be in 9th grade and loves golf, bowling, and everything outdoors.