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Derek Hummert

Derek Hummert

Desert Shadows Middle School

Desert Shadows Middle School Families,

Welcome to Desert Shadows Middle School. It is my awesome responsibility and pleasure to serve as your Principal.  I am here to support families/students in pursuing opportunities and addressing any challenges you may experience at Desert Shadows Middle School.

A little about me, I’m originally from Belleville, Illinois, just across the river from St. Louis.  I benefitted from a quality public school education, completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Iowa and a Masters of Education at the University of Illinois.  I moved to Arizona in 2006.  I’m married with two sons.  My family likes to travel and be outdoors when possible.

I came to Desert Shadows Middle School for the 2016-2017 school year after 5 years at Desert Springs Preparatory Elementary School. Prior to my time in PVSchools, I was an assistant principal at the middle school level in Scottsdale Schools. I'm very happy to lead and support a vibrant middle school setting at DSMS where anything is possible!

Successful schools flourish when parents and teachers work together to create an environment that is safe, healthy, and goal oriented.  We’ll work at our school to create this setting for the benefit of students.  Our students have two school years (360 school days) at the middle level to navigate through a more complex daily schedule, achieve in a more rigorous academic setting, and experience the social opportunities and challenges that come in a large, healthy middle school.  Our efforts will be aimed at delivering a class of great thinkers to Horizon High School each year. We're going to have a lot of fun along the way.

As your principal, I will work to improve our school and resolve challenges of all sorts. I aim to be visible and have an open door to our community.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with ideas, concerns or suggestions.  I look forward to a great journey with you in the 2022-2023 school year.


Derek Hummert
Desert Shadows Middle School

Leah Knaeble

Desert Shadows Middle School

As Assistant Principal, I look forward to working closely with students, parents, and staff at Desert Shadows Middle School this year. I strongly support the collaborative culture in PV and know that we will work together to make this a successful experience for our students.

I moved to PVUSD as a 4th-grade student and graduated from Shadow Mountain High School. Knowing the culture of this district, I enrolled both of my children in PVSchools. My youngest is a current elementary student. My oldest daughter has graduated from Shadow Mountain, and recently married a Paradise Valley High School alumnus. They are raising my first granddaughter in PVSchools. 

I continued with my education at PVCC, then earned a bachelor’s degree in Global Business at Arizona State University. Knowing that my heart was in teaching, I completed an Elementary Education Post-Bach degree at Rio Salado. While teaching, I completed two Master’s Degrees from Northern Arizona University in Multicultural and Bilingual Education, followed by a second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership.

I was hired in Paradise Valley as a 5th-grade teacher in 2003. I then worked as a Title 1 Math Specialist, and a Middle School 7th and 8th Grade Math Teacher at Shea MS. I was most recently the Certified Ombudsman in Human Resources.  

Middle school is a time for students to continue to rely on the support of their families while learning more about their unique interests and abilities. As a Disneyland enthusiast, I hope to inspire students in the words of Walt Disney to “First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare.”

Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. Due to my alternating schedule, it is best to contact me via email at