Dr. Deborah Swensen
Superintendent & Lead Director
I am Deborah Swensen and I am honored to be the Lead Director/ Superintendent of Hawthorn Academy. I am excited to bring my knowledge, skills, experience, passion, and dedication to the school. I joined Hawthorn Academy five months before it opened. When I first became principal of Hawthorn there was just a cement pad in a muddy field. So much has changed. I remember working side by side with parents, board members, teachers, and spouses to unload and put together 900 student desks, 48 teacher desks, chairs, tables, book cases, cafeteria tables and filing cabinets. We all hauled boxes of curriculum and stamped hundreds of manuals and books. Who can forget the day the desks came and there were teachers and parents in every hall and classroom screwing legs on desks and carrying the completed desks into the classrooms? I remember all hands on deck as we finished planting flowers and laying grass, vacuuming halls and cleaning windows up to the moment we opened the doors for our open house.
We started with a mission and have worked together with representative stakeholder groups to build a vision, belief statements, and student learning goals. It has taken everyone ― parents, teachers, administrators and students ― working together as a community of learners to achieve our goals. There is great power in education. The education of every child is important. Working together, Hawthorn Academy has succeeded and has been recognized for its high quality education that encourages and prepares students to participate in a global society. At Hawthorn, together we help students to develop and maintain a positive attitude towards learning.
Education has been an important part of my family for generations and it has always been my passion. I first saw the power of changing a student's life and teaching critical core concepts through the performing arts. It was there that I began to develop my love of literature. I remember always striving to excel and to be challenged as a student myself. One example in my own life was my participation as a student in various accelerated academic programs.
I believe that education should create a true "love of learning" in students. Education is more than just teaching subjects; it is addressing the needs of the whole child and preparing youth to participate as students their entire life - always learning from each experience. The international Baccalaureate (IB) program at Hawthorn Academy puts into practice these attributes.
I received my BA at Brigham Young University, my MEd at Utah State University, and my PhD in Educational Leadership and Foundations at Brigham Young University. I also currently spend time as an adjunct professor at a local university. Before coming to Hawthorn I taught in the K-12 educational system for twelve years and have worked as an administrator for fifteen years. I understand education through my experiences. My experience as a teacher included instructing and developing curriculum in an Accelerated Learners Program (ALPs). My administrative experience includes both the K-12 and state levels.
I have a wonderful family. My greatest support and joy come from my husband John and our four children, three sons and one daughter. We also have ten amazing grandchildren, one of whom I hope to have come to Hawthorn in a couple of years as his father is one of our founding parents. Both my husband and I have opened our home to youth and have worked for years in youth programs. We value each individual and recognize the importance of helping each child become the best that they can. Outside of the professional arena I have many interests. I enjoy theater, sewing, reading, writing, traveling, singing, cooking, taking walks in our National parks, and visiting with friends. Most of all, I enjoy spending time with my family, seeing my grandchildren discover the wonder of nature and learning, and introducing them to the joy of reading and laughing.