Nicole Vanbuskirk Believes “Extreme Comfort Doesn’t Breed Deep Learning”

Tah'niyah Jackson, Staff Writer

To kick off the 2021-2022 school year, Nicole Vanbuskirk joined our school community as one of Norristown’s new assistant principals. Among her many duties, she is primarily in charge of overseeing scheduling, the English department for grades 10-12, and their electives, along with JROTC and AP testing.

Before she came to Norristown, Ms. Vanbuskirk served as an assistant principal at Central High School in Philadelphia for 15 years. She attended the school as a student as well, spending a total of 19 years at her alma mater. 

Although she appreciated her time at Central, Ms. Vanbuskirk came to Norristown to break out of the familiar environment and push herself to see what more she could accomplish. “Extreme comfort doesn’t breed deep learning,” she said. 

To be even better at her job, Ms. Vanbuskirk needed to see how “other people do it,” believing she was getting too comfortable at her old school because of the amount of time she was there.

One of Ms. Vanbuskirk’s goals here is to help the other leaders and assist in continuing Norristowns traditions; however, she also really hopes that the work she does helps students overall accomplish more in the classroom. 

“Scheduling is one of the few things in any high school building that can help drive academic success,” said Ms. Vanbuskirk “Creating many options for students in their schedule and making it work creates the best college application. That is a key teller of how good a high school is, by what students do next.”  

She wants every student to have the best portfolio possible for when they leave high school and go out into the real world. 

Because of her experience and help along the way, Ms.Vanbuskirk believes she has become a better assistant principal.

Creating many options for students in their schedule and making it work creates the best college application. That is a key teller of how good a high school is, by what students do next.”

— Nicole Vanbuskirk

“I have had amazing mentors at both Central High School and Mastbaum [a vocational school in Philadelphia],” Ms. Vanbuskirk said. “I’ve had this wide variety of experiences, and seeing what students need to get to the next step I think has really prepared me well for coming here.” 

While Ms.Vanbuskirk is happy to be here, she knows one of Norristown’s biggest issues is funding: we need money to buy the necessary things for the quality of our school to improve, like providing more desks and hiring more teachers just to accommodate for the number of students here this year. “This building wasn’t built for the number of students who are here,” she said. “Something that is beyond our control here in our building is having a fair funding formula.”

Her favorite part of the job is working with students. As a teacher, you only see a select group of students every year, but Ms. Vanbuskirk states, “as a VP [ an assistant principal], you get to see a little bit of everybody.”  

She says the worst part of her job is the paperwork and the meetings she has to attend because of her job title.

“It comes with the job but it’s not the fun part where you get to just chill and hang with people,” Ms. Vanbuskirk said

Ms. Vanbuskirk spoke about how she can’t wait to see how the school year will carry on Norristown’s legacy.

“I am so excited to be here. I just want to meet new people,” said Ms. Vanbuskirk.  ”I’m excited to work with the students and teachers and see what I can offer them but also what they are offering to the school.”

Norristown too is excited to welcome a principal with so much enthusiasm and experience.