Roseville Area High School Principal Chris Hester embraced working directly with students as a science teacher early in her career.
But the idea that she should could multiply her impact and help even more students is what ultimately drew her to the principal’s office.
“If I positively impact 10 teachers who each work with 150 students, that’s 1,500 kids I am helping,” Hester said. “It’s just amazing.”
Hester’s positive impact on the children and parents of Roseville and the surrounding community was on full display this year as she was named 2023 Minnesota High School Principal of the Year. Hester has served as the head high school principal for more than six years, working with 2,300 students and 200 faculty and staff annually.
“I love what I do,” Hester said. “It’s about the kids and the teachers. It’s about changing things so our future looks better than what we have now.”
While Hester has helped thousands of students and teachers during her 19-year career as a school administrator, her attention to the individual draws the highest praise.
“She is a firm believer in recognizing and acknowledging all individuals that walk into her building,” according to the award announcement from the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals. “Christina’s dedication to her students has been illustrated in her equity-focused changes within the school systems, curriculum, and grading practices.”
Hester said she and her administrative team are focused on establishing and nurturing those relationships and seeing students as individuals.
“We are always listening, looking, and watching,” she said. “When we build those relationships with our students and teachers, we become a community that takes care of one another vs. fighting with each other.”
During her tenure, a big emphasis has been teaching teens how to effectively communicate and champion for their beliefs.
Hester said it’s helping students figure out, “If you don’t like what you see, how do you advocate for yourself?”
Hester grew up in San Jose, Calif. Her father was in the tech industry and her mom worked in city government. She earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. During college, she played point guard on the women’s basketball team, breaking the school’s all-time record for most steals in a season and most steals of all time. (Those records still stand!)
Hester initially pursued a career in coaching. She was a graduate assistant for the women’s basketball team at Michigan State University while she earned her master’s degree. She also worked as an assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Minnesota.
But she found herself drawn to the classroom. Hester earned her teaching credentials, and she taught seventh-grade science and coached high school basketball. She again pivoted to college athletics, serving as head women’s basketball coach and athletic director at Bethel University for six years before accepting her first assistant principal job at Robbinsdale Middle School in 2006. She’s spent nearly two decades in middle and high school administration.
Hester said she’s making another pivot to further amplify her impact. At the end of the year, she will become a Roseville Area Schools District Principal on Special Assignment with an emphasis on curriculums, onboarding new staff, and cultural competency.
"In order to get that true change we are seeking, participation in policy at the district level is where it’s at,” she said.