Award Recipients - Administration

John D'Auria
Peggy Bryan

Gary Burton
Denise Clay Kevin Crowley

Timothy Cornely

Joanne Delaney

Richard  DeYoung

Ron Eckel 
Mary Eich

Sandra Einsel

Susan Evans

Bobbie Fagan


Janet Ferone               Miriam Kronish    

Leslie Gant                 Kathleen MacIvor

Suzanne Gillam          Jan McAlister

Beth Glick                  Elizabeth McGonagle

N. Jerome Goldberg   Sandra McGonagle 

Maryellen Grady        Theresa Molinelli

Richard Grandmont    Stuart Peskin

Avalin Green              Carol Pilarski

Julie Grenier               Marilynne Quarcoo

Jane Hawes                 Lisa Reynolds

George Johnson          Constance Joy Sacca

Peter Jordan                Audrey Seyffert

Michael Joseph           Stephen Theall

Diane Kablik               Karen Tower

Jean Kenney               Nathaniel Vaughn

                                    Marlene Veldwisch

                                    Robin Waller

                                    Andrea Wong


John D'Auria, 1999

John D'Auria is Principal of the Wellesley Middle School. According to his nominators, "John is a model for being a caring, knowledgeable administrator and an exemplary teacher. He is a human being; he listens and isn't quick to judge. He constantly asks questions not only of his teachers, but of himself. He encourages his teachers to try new things and make mistakes. Any constructive criticism is always followed by workable examples and a willingness to help teachers plan and grow. John really believes that each person can make a difference. He searches for ways to show each individual his or her unique importance to the whole community and is quick to give others credit for their ideas, time and talents."

It is against this backdrop of caring and modeling of risk taking that John when organizing the Martin Luther King and Memorial Day assemblies, always chooses powerful speakers who describe how they take stands for what is right. Hopefully, you'll hear John discuss a very special project involving an incredible field trip of 7th and 8th graders to Selma, Alabama that made a unit on Racism come alive for the students and which continue to have ripple effects throughout the school.

John has created an exemplary middle school culture which dedicates itself to core values of consideration for others and accountability for one's behavior , communication skills, and commitment to studies. He has implemented his vision of a heterogeneous learning environment which sets high expectations for all students. All students are expected to master the same learning goals, which are set at the level of the highest group,

with a number of practices and structures created to keep the curriculum both challenging to the most facile learner and accessible to those who struggle with academic learning.

John's passion for excellence, both in instruction and learning, is demonstrated daily as he wanders the halls and stops by classes

to see how things are going. He is always recognizing the special things that individual teachers do, and he also recognizes the children directly. Every mid-term, he asks teachers to forward

the names of students who have shown considerable improvement in their studies. These students receives a "spark" letters from John, praising them on their efforts and giving specific examples of what they have done to achieve their success. Another long standing innovation is "Pizza with the Principal" whereby students, who are selected by their teachers as outstanding citizens, have lunch with the principal where they discuss issues important to them.

John has worked as a math teacher, guidance counselor, and principal for the past 27 years. His experience has been with both urban and suburban school districts. He is currently working on his doctoral dissertation at University of Massachusetts, Boston entitled" How Children Come to Perceive their Intelligence as Either a Fixed or Dynamic Entity.: John also works part time as a staff developer with Research for Better Teaching. He is married and is the father of two children ages 14 and 17.

Peggy Bryan, 2004

“Extremely innovative, extraordinarily inspirational, effective leader, community builder;” these are just some of the many descriptions of Peggy Bryan by her colleagues. Since 1997 Peggy has served as the Principal of Sherman Oaks School in the Campbell Union School District, CA, which serves a largely immigrant population, grades Kindergarten through Grade 6.  Under Peggy’s leadership and co-authorship, the school changed status in 2000 to become a charter school.  The model for Sherman Oaks is that decisions are made by the teaching staff, with input from the principal and oversight by a Governing Board composed of various  parent and community representatives.

One of her nominators, Professor Gerry Chartrand, a professor at San Jose State University and a former Associate Supt of Educational Services in Campbell Union School District notes, “Peggy stands out in my mind at the top of the list of all those
administrators I have had the privilege to work with.  She is a deep thinking person, one who can interpret, analyze, and process information extremely well.  She has a great vision of how things could be, and she is a brilliant problem solver in carrying out that vision. Her creative juices flow when she is working through

ideas and challenges." Colleagues note that she is a mentor to her staff, leading them in thinking of creative, new solutions to age-old ways of doing things. She rarely says, ”No, we can’t do that.” 

It’s always, “Why not?”

Here are some highlights of her many innovations:
Peggy is noted for encouraging parent participation and leadership. A bilingual PACT Parents Group meets monthly to address issues facing local families and acts to formulate and support needed programs.  Results of their efforts include: an after an school program; a Healthy Kids program, which is a quality low cost health insurance program; parenting classes; and a morning ESL Class with child care. Sherman Oaks is the only school in the district that offers a federally subsidized breakfast each morning.  Peggy also uses Title VII funds to hire a parent part-time to assist other parents in finding needed resources, be it help with domestic violence or landlord issues.

A major achievement is the creation of the Midday Block, a “win-win” for teachers and students, which Peggy helped design, support and fund. In effect it lengthens the school day.   This is an extended prep time for teachers that fosters staff development and collegiality, be it group planning, preparation of special school events, or Spanish classes for non-Spanish speaking staff.  During this time a variety of activities for students take place: an extended lunch period; Running Clubs, which have led to improved student fitness; and art classes taught by a cadre of professional artists. This year there is a Latin American Story Teller for Drama and Art, who augments the school’s dual immersion language program, and a visual artist who teaches computer graphics.

Another very important accomplishment at Sherman Oaks is last year’s 153 point increase in the school’s Academic Performance Index, the largest increase of any school in the state. Part of this accomplishment can be attributed to Peggy’s hiring of a coach, who worked with teachers individually and in groups on how to improve the reading and writing of students.

Peggy is well recognized by her peers as a talented, passionate, and courageous leader.  She is always looking for ways to grow and improve herself, her students, and her community. We are honored to recognize her for “Excellence in Education.”

Gary Burton, 2011 

Gary Burton has served as Superintendent of Schools in Wayland, MA for the past 17 years. 

“True leadership in the field of education is a rare and magnificent happening.  It is one of the true wonders that binds human beings across continents and makes us one of the most remarkable of all creatures on earth.  When the leadership that guides this phenomenon is pensive, strong, decisively wise under pressure, talented and benevolent, there is a phenomenon that occurs that moves lives in directions that others may not have thought possible.”  This is one of several extraordinary testimonials written on behalf of Dr.  Burton.

Throughout each of the letters that were submitted in support of  Dr. Burton, he was consistently noted for his ability, talent, and skill to listen attentively to the concerns, queries, thoughts, and suggestions of parents showing consideration for varying viewpoints and sincerely valuing their perspectives.  It was specifically noted that he strives to build consensus and in doing so, has a gift and rare talent for bringing together various constituencies to achieve a common purpose. 

Additional statements included in Dr. Burton’s nomination were:

  • His leadership style is one of team building and achieving gratification  through the success of others.

  •  His leadership style fosters innovation and creates opportunities for staff and students to realize their full potential and reach the very high expectations the Wayland Public Schools sets.

  • Dr. Burton is truly deserving of recognition for his steady leadership, commitment to children and families, mentoring and support to staff,  and genuine care and compassion for all with whom he comes in contact.

Tim Cornely, a Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, comments, “I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Gary on the phone to congratulate him for receiving this year’s Goldin Award.  He shared with me how flattered and humbled he was upon receiving the phone call from Harriet Goldin and was truly honored to have been nominated by members of his staff.  He also shared with me that after 35 years as a superintendent, he will be retiring in June.  He was very proud to tell me that Wayland has begun to turn the corner fiscally and will be actually hiring new staff for next year.  He also said that he is really pleased to leave the district in good shape.”

Denise Clay, 2015

Denise Clay serves as Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for Moreland School District, San Jose CA. Her nominators state that Denise’s personal vision is to do what is best for kids….always…. even if it requires a shake-up of the ‘business as usual’ model.  She continues to go above and beyond in determining ways for teachers and students to have real world application of what they learn in school while achieving 21st century skills.”

Her nominators state that Denise’s personal vision is to do what

is best for kids….always…. even if it requires a shake-up of the ‘business as usual’ model.  She continues to go above and beyond in determining ways for teachers and students to have real world application of what they learn in school while achieving 21st century skills.”

Here are some highlights:

Believing in authentic collaboration, Denise expertly facilitates groups of teacher leaders in all curriculum areas to problem solve and make decisions. She inspires and empowers them to design professional development and lead their staffs toward better teaching practices.

She joined with 2 neighboring districts to offer workshops for teachers in integrating technology with student learning including the iPad Academy and Digital Media Academy.

Denise offers many professional development workshops throughout the school year on strategies for differentiating instruction for all students. As a result of analyzing Moreland data regarding achievement of English Language Learners, she offered instruction in both an Academy Summer School program and an After School program. These 2 programs impacted hundreds of students, who evidenced growth in English Language Arts.

Despite the loss of funding for the program for gifted and talented learners, Denise supports the GATE committee, which provides enrichment opportunities for students and informational evenings for parents.

When Denise first took her position, Moreland’s parent involvement was limited.  During the past 6 years, she has built parent leadership and engagement.  She found funding for free training for parents of behaviorally at-risk students, which provided useful advice and parenting support.  This Parent Project is sponsored by the District Attorney’s office.

Another program that Denise spearheaded is the Community Based English Tutoring classes for adults that teaches English through parenting skills and community building, which is open

to parents from all Moreland schools.  When asked why she attends the program, one parent shared, “I come here because there are no translators.  I learn more English and practice with classmates from different countries.  Another parent comments after a class on making decisions, “The class gives me confidence.  I understand the report card more and talk to my children.  I learned to let my child decide what clothes to wear. I learned to be more independent and let my daughters be more independent too.”

Denise Clay is a proven leader whose efforts have improved student learning, expanded teacher collaboration, and made significant progress in closing the achievement gap.  She has built a community of learners: administrators, teachers, parents, and most importantly, students.

Timothy Cornely, 2002

Timothy Cornely is the Principal of the Fred W. Miller Intermediate Elementary School in Holliston. Tim was nominated for an award for excellence for his outstanding leadership when opening the Miller School three years ago and for his work in implementing standards based learning in his school.
When tracing Tim’s history with the Holliston Public Schools, it was clear that Tim was uniquely prepared to assume the task of creating the new school. He was the ideal candidate. Tim has been with the Holliston Public School since 1976. Between 1976 an 1998 Tim taught grades one, three, and four, was a guidance counselor, a remedial reading teacher and an  assistant principal of grades pre K through 3.  During the 80’s Tim established Holliston's After School Program and later coordinated the Peer leadership Program. In 1999 Tim became Principal of the soon to be, Fred W. Miller Intermediate Elementary School. 
Combining students, staff, and curricula from two different level schools is  a complex, time consuming task.  The job for Tim and his staff was made more complicated by the fact that the school building designated for the new level was being renovated and enlarged, and  teachers could not get into their classrooms until two days before school began.  In addition, just at that time, as part of education reform, state mandated frameworks had been established which  would necessitate  immediate curriculum  assessment and some  changes at all grade levels.
As they began their year with new colleagues, a new principal, in a new school, Tim and his staff  tackled the  challenges of  evaluating  grade level curriculum in light of the new state frameworks,  establishing appropriate grade level learning standards, revamping curriculum and assessment,  selecting new materials, and developing a new reporting system.   As a result, Tim’s newly formed school has become a leader in  the district in student assessment and the transition to standards  based curriculum. 
When nominating Tim, administrators, teachers, and parents wrote glowingly of Tim’s accomplishments and  they paid  tribute to the Miller School’s culture of high expectations and accountability.      

Kevin Crowley
, 1995

The words of his nominators tell us about Kevin Crowley, Principal of Johnson Elementary School. "Listen to the children and parents, energized, proud, happy, speak of the new Johnson, the Johnson they envision in the future and the hope in their voices as they now believe their visions will come true - because of the magic of Kevin Crowley."

"On June 2,1994 Kevin was officially hired as principal. Teachers were enthusiastic, for Kevin had established himself as a role model for students, parents and staff during his principal internship in Fall 1993. By June 10, he had enchanted our children by visiting them in their classrooms, ~playing with them in the schoolyard, and promising to sneak them out for an extra recess in the fall. And by June 15, Johnson families came under his spell when we received a warm open inviting letter in which he expressed his excitement about the new appointment, articulated his educational philosophy and goals, and emphasized the partnership between the home and the school, stressing that our participation would pave the way for our school not only to be a center of inquiry but a center for the community." During the summer, Kevin renovated the Teachers Room, and he set up a teacher media center, improvements that were beneficial to the entire staff. On the first Friday of the school year, he brought lunch for the entire staff to say thank you for working so hard to make a Grand Opening for the new school year,*n*: ~ ~, infused us with his energy. One of his first suggestions was that each teacher start off the school year with a "Good News" telephone call to all the parents of his/her students to open up lines of communication between the home and school. Feedback from this initiative was phenomenal.

More magic, inclusion, spirit, and leadership, as we tour the Johnson School and witness some of the new initiatives.

  *Drive up to the front of the school and see the new sign that  reads "Johnson Elementary School, Building Our Future One Student At A Time."

  *Step into the front lobby and see photographs of the entire Johnson staff. Peruse the Johnson Gazzette, a monthly letter published by Kevin and the PTO. Read with pride the newspaper clippings about the school and its members, as Kevin makes sure the larger Natick community recognizes what is happening at Johnson.

  *Enter now into the main building. See the newly mounted "Friends of Johnson School" plaque with the first names of the former principal, Keith Cassidy, and the five police officers who throughout the fall played after school street hockey with the fourth graders, a league set up by Kevin. There's room to note the firefighters who will be playing indoor volleyball with the third graders and the volunteer parents who will be running a computer club. What better way to know in a personal way the leaders of a town.

  *Walk, don't run down the halls. You might be seeing the principal listening to a child read, checking up on a boy's homework completion necessary for all street hockey players. You might be a part of Spirit Days, which incorporate cross grade planning, sharing students in different classrooms and treating the entire school to a theme related snack. Drop in on PTO meeting in a host teacher's classroom, where parents might see the incorporation of computers and curriculum, the uses of Open Circle, Writer's Workshop, and discussion about a newly formed fourth grade safety patrol to guard a formerly unsupervised pathway.

  *Finally join us at Johnson community activities, the Halloween Fun Fair, Book Fairs, holiday bazaars. Kevin does these activities and more without fanfare, Hear him as he gives credit to others and raises a quick hand to ward off any thanks. You might think Kevin's been at this for many many years. After running a successful electrical company for ten years, Kevin went back to college, received his Master of Education in Administration and Supervision, was named 4th grade teacher at Brown School in 1989, and is now off and running as a principal. We all salute you in your first year!

Joanne Delaney, 2002

Joanne Delaney is Coordinator of Special Education at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School in Concord. As her nominators write, “Joanne has had a profound impact on our school community because of her superior performance as an innovative developer, a staff recruiter, a professional development designer, a supervisor and department chairperson, an interpreter and defender of the law, an ardent defender of individual rights, and a master of administrative details. She has set the standard for quality Special Education.” 

At her high school, Joanne has brought about a much better understanding of the law, of students’ special needs, and new classroom models. Many of the policies, programs, and procedures developed under her auspices are replicable to similar populations, and much of her work has been adopted by others. A major programmatic achievement under her leadership is the Pathways Program, which is designed for students with intensive disabilities so that they can achieve academic, social, and pre-vocational success in an inclusive educational setting. Because of its excellent design and implementation, the program has exceeded its goals in mainstreaming these students while providing for their individual needs. The program core is centrally and visibly located in the school; and its students’ integration in the school community, in addition to being a metamorphosis for them, has positively changed the tone of the school and enriched the lives of all. 

Other innovations under Joanne’s leadership have changed the climate of the school while servicing special needs students. Special Ed Department tutors have been utilized as team teachers in English, Social Studies, Math, and Science classes. Tutors are able to assist the classroom teachers with all students, while serving their specific charges without singling them out or unduly drawing attention to them. Joanne was among the first to purchase Title 1 software for English and math remediation. She also implemented a post-hospitalization therapy group that helped to smooth the return of students who had been temporarily institutionalized for psychiatric reasons.

According to her nominators, one of Joanne’s greatest strengths is team building, as evidenced by a very cohesive department of mutually supportive teachers, specialists, tutors, and aides. She has capitalized on existing partnerships between Math and English teachers and special education teachers and tutors and developed them into more effective teaching pairs who enhance instruction for all students in classrooms. She has encouraged her staff to develop individual subspecialties, for which she has provided training. “Joanne stands out as much for her personal qualities as her professional ones. She cares deeply about the students and professionals at Concord-Carlisle. She is a tireless worker for the just and fair implementation o a most complex set of law. She is compassionate and generous of spirit. Her strength of character and courage are legendary among us.”

Richard DeYoung, 2004

Richard DeYoung, a Principal at the Dale Street Elementary School in Medfield, MA., demonstrates compassion for teaching, and his unique “personal touch” has impacted countless students and teachers.

Nominators note, “Dick DeYoung is is as much a teacher as he is a principal. He is also a true ‘spirit whisperer.’” According to author Chick Moorman, a "spirit whisperer" is "any adult who teaches to a child's spirit." When Dick meets with children, he talks to them in such a way that they know he cares about them. The safety and comfort of each student at Dale Street is crucial to him. In collaboration with other administrators, Dick worked to design a Transition Day to take place each June. On this day students get to spend about an hour in their new classroom with their new class and teacher. The proper placement of each student is a process that begins each January when parents, teachers, and the special education staff are given the opportunity to express concerns regarding the needs of each student. Each placement is given careful consideration. This annual Transition Day removes much of the anxiety students normally face at the end of each summer. Students know their teacher, their classroom, their classmates before they leave for summer vacation, and this system helps provide a smooth transition to the next year.

DeYoung’s leadership style embraces the concept of inclusion, and he works each day to maintain the safe, caring and nurturing environment that is associated with the Dale Street School. He has emphasized special needs education so that all students with special needs are given appropriate support to address their individual learning styles. He has also developed a team concept that involves all staff members who work with special needs students, collaborating to ensure the success of each child.

Dick teaches the members of the Dale Street community that good character is critical to the well being of the community. He has provided support for its Character Education Program since aiding in its inception in 1997. Currently, Dick reads a "thought of the day" each morning, providing a thought to ponder for the monthly theme.

Dick sees the best in every person and encourages constant growth just as he is constantly growing and learning. With his staff, Dick believes in acknowledging each person as an individual. He is always finding ways to tell teachers how important they are and he never fails to recognize diligence. Dick encourages his staff to enjoy their lives outside of the classroom. When a teacher has a life-altering experience such as spending 15 months in Iraq, teaching in Nepal, developing education programs at an AIDS orphanage in Zimbabwe, training a guide dog, or creating art while on sabbatical in Italy, Dick always encourages the teacher to share her experiences. Our life experiences shape us and Dick has always valued the important role of individuals in creating community. Our annual Hunger Awareness Day is one example of how a valued personal experience can positively affect the lives of hundreds of students.

Dick is a principal who makes others feel safe and respected. He gives his full attention to his staff, to concerned parents, to his administrative colleagues, and to the Dale Street students who look up to their funny, caring, positive principal. Dick is a fabulous role model to impressionable students as well as to educators. He works tirelessly for the good of the Dale Street School, staying late most nights and coming in to work on weekends and vacations yet still repeating his mantra, "Life is good," at the end of an arduous day. Dick is a great human being; supportive, appreciative, and genuine.

Ron Eckel, 2003

 Ron Eckel, Principal of the Israel Loring Elementary School in Sudbury,  serves as the instructional leader for 570 students, 350 families, and 80 staff members of the Loring School, a tall order for a leader who has made it his mission to model and communicate the core values of his school: Caring, Respect, Responsibility and Best Effort. In 1999, having inherited a new building whose students, families and staff had been redistricted from several established school communities, Ron faced the daunting task of building a new school culture and community including all of these diverse members.

Four years later, several members of his staff and parent groups, in their enthusiasm for his work, describe him as providing "impressive leadership, creativity, compassion and vision", a "gentle and respectful spirit.....which makes one feel safe and proud just passing him in the  hallway."  Another writes that " he has shown both in word and deed that the best interests of the new Loring School community are central in his heart."

Like all administrators, Ron’s duties have included resolution of  leaky roofs, broken cabinets, missing furniture, traffic patterns and budgets.  However, despite these responsibilities, he has still found time to create programs like his Monday Morning Meetings, Community Celebration, the Principal's Choice Program, Big Friend/Little Friend, Random Acts of Kindness, and many more initiatives aimed at building core values into the Loring School Community. His personal influence on the Loring School Community has clearly been significant for all involved.

Ron Eckel represents the essence of what the Goldin Foundation looks for in an outstanding educator.

Mary Eich and Marilynne Smith Quarcoo, 2003

Mary Eich and Marilynne Smith Quarcoo have been outstanding as “leaders of the leaders” of the Newton Public school system. They are recognized for their work in bringing awareness about and helping to close the minority achievement gap between white students and students of color. Mary, as Mathematics Coordinator for the Newton Public Schools, and Marilynne, as Principal of the Cabot Elementary School, have made presentations to all administrators including the history of testing, bias in testing, performance of students in color in Newton, and statistics about the placement of children of color in advanced courses on the secondary level. Their thoughtful and thorough work has had significant impact, creating necessary dialogue and paving the way for action to address the problem.

Together and separately they have helped principals learn the tools to collect and analyze data in their individual schools, which enabled the principals to write specific cultural relevance plans into their School Improvement Plans for 2003-2006. Last summer, a team of four elementary principals who were inspired by their work on closing the achievement gap, attended a workshop and brought back to their staffs and other elementary principals a plan for focusing on the progress of individual students. This year as members of the Achievement Gap Committee, they planned a workshop, “Getting Accountability Right,” for all Newton administrators and guidance staff, which was led by a nationally known researcher and educator. In addition the Committee organized study teams of administrators at all levels to read and discuss three books that have caused reflection and action.

In her own school, Marilynne has created an exciting and safe environment for all students. She understands the developmental needs of children; she assists teachers to frame challenging curricula; and she encourages instructional practices that are effective in moving students to their goals. Marilynne has assembled a committed team of educators who provide additional academic support to students who need it before and after school.

Mary has continued her excellent work with colleagues in supporting the elementary literacy initiative by leading workshops for teachers in reading and writing in math and science. She has developed supplemental materials, called “Challenge Binders,” which may be used by teachers at all levels to provide students with additional math experiences. Mary also has written a large part of Newton’s three-year plan required by the “No Child Left Behind” legislation.

Creating cultural relevance in curriculum, encouraging relevant instructional practices, and fostering strong relationships with students are on-going processes. Mary and Marilynne have been persistent in their mission to close the achievement gap between white students and students of color and all other students at all levels. They continue to raise difficult questions that force educators to examine their present practices and beliefs; they challenge the stereotypes that educators may unwittingly bring to their classrooms; they review published materials and teaching practices to ascertain whether students of color are able to meet the curriculum goals. Their leadership, motivation, and inspiration have helped all in the Newton Public Schools stay focused on its system-wide core value of Respect for Human Differences, narrowing the achievement gap, and providing the best experiences possible for all students.

Sandra Einsel, 2009


“Driven to convey the message that we are all responsible for the education, welfare, and success of all of our students and that we must ensure that all students are included as well as active participants in their community schools.”  This quote is one of many that describes the strong beliefs and vision of Dr. Sandra Einsel,Director of Pupil Personnel Services of the Walpole Public Schools in MA. 


For the past nine years Dr. Einsel has transformed the Walpole Public Schools into a district that is inclusive and accepting of all student learners and their diverse and unique learning styles. Sandra has developed, implemented, and sustained over eight individualized programs beginning in preschool and extending through high school for students who would otherwise have been served outside of the Walpole Public Schools.  She is a gifted educator who possesses an expertise for engaging administrators, staff and parents to initiate change that would provide the best environment for all students to thrive. 


Programs such as the Learning Center for students whose cognitive abilities are significantly compromised, the partnership with the Walker School for students who have emotional and behavior difficulties and the multiple programs at the high school including Life Skills, Language Inclusion, Career and Education, and the Bridge Program, are just a few examples of how the Walpole Public Schools are providing quality and appropriate programming for all students under Sandra’s direction.


The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has commended Dr.Einsel for her program development resulting in over eighty percent inclusive classes.

Susan Evans, 2005

Susan Evans has served as Principal of the Boyden Elementary School in Walpole, MA.  After graduating from Lowell State College with a BA in Music Education, she taught general music and directed bands and choruses in Ashby, Randolph and Milton. She then came to the Fisher School in Walpole where she developed a fabulous program of music for kindergarten through grade six, from general music classes to marvelous choruses, including a faculty choir with ‘wonderful’ head tones, to talented instrumental ensembles.

In 1980, Susan began her successful career in administration which included years spent as Walpole’s K-12 Music Department Chair and Fisher School’s Assistant Principal.  In 1990, she reopened the Boyden Elementary School as its principal, which had been closed due to Proposition 2½, where she has remained for 15 years.  

Susan could have been nominated for a Goldin Foundation Excellence in Education Award for many of her achievements:

  • She was an outstanding music teacher who shared her skills with many student teachers who went on to stellar careers.
  • Or perhaps because of her successful leadership of the Boyden School Reopening which included a smooth transition and well planned redistricting.
  • Or because she has just successfully brought the Boyden School Community through a three year period of growth and construction that has doubled the size of the building welcoming over 400 students and their families into the new environment.
  • It could also have been her dedication to the countless committees she has led or contributed to – from Music to Technology, from Math to Foreign Language, from Crisis Intervention to Homework Review, or Curriculum Training to New Teacher Mentoring.
  • Then there was her achievement just two years ago when she received one of the Edgerly School Leadership Awards as a result of her students’ superior performance on the math portion of the MCAS.
  • It could be, that as her Superintendent, Kathleen Smith, wrote, “Sue is a catalyst for positive change, and a leader who models for others the courage to explore difficult ideas.”
  • And then there were the many accolades from her fellow administrators, praising her vision, mentoring, high standards, and leadership.

Suzanne Gillam, former Principal in Walpole noted, “Having known Susan since her earliest days in Walpole, I can assure you that all of those attributes and more are readily apparent when you have the privilege of working with her.  But I believe her recognition here this evening is best summed up in the words of her secretary, Carol Harkins, when she wrote, “Each day she displays her dedication to the field of education, and because of her outstanding efforts, the Boyden School has become a wonderful learning environment for the children as well as a nurturing environment for the staff.”  .

Bobbie Fagan, 2005

Bobbie Fagan serves as Principal at Southside Primary School in Cleveland, Texas.  Those who nominated Bobbie all mentioned her multi-faceted talents and the array of responsibilities, which she has handled with confidence, without losing her humility.  She presently has numerous responsibilities ranging from the organization, planning, and implementation of all programs within the school to working hand-in-hand with parents and the community.

One outstanding characteristic of Bobbie Fagan is her visionary leadership.  Following are a few of her educational achievements evidencing this leadership.  She has served as an educational teacher and leader for the last 30 years.  She has served 10 years as a classroom teacher and is completing her 20th year as an administrator. She is certified in Speech and Hearing Therapy, Speech Communications, Elementary Education, Special Education, Supervision, and holds a Mid-management certification.  Bobbie has taught in each of these areas of certification. She designed, implemented, and ran the first Speech Therapy program for one of the districts in which she served.  She is currently a member of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) and has served as an officer at the region and state levels for TEPSA.  She has served on the State Planning Committee for the restructuring of TEPSA’s roles and responsibilities.  She has also been a member of the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) and served as an officer at the regional level.  She has presented seminars at the TASSP conferences and served as Department Head for Special Education.  Bobbie became a Master Teacher while in the classroom, developing, writing, and coordinating a study skills program for a junior high.  In one district, she assisted teachers in a school, with 80% of the student population at-risk, to become a Texas Recognized campus. 

Bobbie understands that principals continually need to take on even larger roles in the work of convincing the public to support public schools. She has taught Common Sense Parenting classes to community members and received the “Lion of the Year Award” for community services and for implementing the school program that provided eyeglasses to needy students in area school districts.

Janet Ferone, 2013

Janet Ferone serves as PATH Program Administrator at the Boston Community Leadership Academy, Boston Public Schools.

There is a well known quote by Robert Kennedy that says, “There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why.  I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”   Many letters written in support of Janet Ferone’s nomination note that she is that dreamer. Janet  has taken those dreams, turned them into realities, and changed the lives of so many colleagues and students.

As educators, we all know that a child needs to feel safe in order to be a successful learner.  This idea of safety is not only physical, but emotional as well.  Janet Ferone has spent her career raising the awareness of this important fact.  For almost 30 years, Janet served as the Senior Coordinator of the Learning Adaptive Behavior Program, or L/AB, at both the middle and high school levels.  These programs address the needs of students with significant behavioral, emotional, and learning issues.  As coordinator, Janet balanced positive behavior interventions with high academic expectations, enabling students to meet their potential.  She created an environment where a team of educators could collaborate on best practices in order to help their students.  As one former colleague stated, “Along with her entrance came new ideas as well as a more profound sense of community and family among the students and staff.....we were able to improve the quality of education and services our students needed.”

Ms. Ferone’s effect on the students in these programs has been far-reaching and profound.  The programs have met with great success, from higher academic achievement, to college acceptance and graduation, to improved perceptions of self-esteem and self-worth.  She supported students beyond academics: attending their sporting events, visiting their homes, and helping them through any personal or educational challenge.  As one of her former students wrote, “I am a success because of her hard work, dedication, willingness to push me towards greater heights, and the all-out fact that she cares about what she does.” 

Currently, Ms. Ferone serves as the Senior Coordinator of the PATH program at Boston Community Leadership Academy.  Melissa Morabito, Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, comments, “Recently, I had the privilege to visit this program designed for students with significant emotional challenges.  I was able to visit and speak with not only Ms. Ferone but her students as well.  If you had told me before that this program didn’t even exist a year ago, I would not have believed you.  As the students described their experiences, and explained how their school experience has changed since the creation of this program, it was clear to me that Ms. Ferone had, once again, created an environment where students felt comfortable and safe.  These students are ready, willing, and able to learn.”

Janet is an educator, administrator, author, and consultant -- clearly she has worn many hats throughout her career.  Perhaps, most importantly, she is an advocate for those students who need a voice in our education system.  She brings to light the importance of considering the needs of students with emotional and behavioral challenges.  Programs, such as those Janet has created, are essential and necessary to foster the growth and success of so many students.  Janet understands this, and as she continues her amazing work.

Leslie Gant, 2011


Leslie L. Gant, serves a Assistant Principal at the K-8 Mildred Avenue School in Mattapan, Boston Public Schools, MA.



Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

  Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.


Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.    

(Langston Hughes)


Leslie Gant, as the new assistant principal, introduced herself to her new colleagues with this poem.  She stated, “It symbolizes the spirit of all educators who dream of imparting their knowledge to eager learners who have been entrusted to us by their families. I look forward to working with you to ensure that all children are giving a safe learning environment where they can thrive socially, emotionally, and academically.”  Her colleagues have responded enthusiastically that Leslie brings so much to the school. They comment that Leslie is an excellent listener; she really tries to see all points of view; and talking to her ends by receiving useful and helpful information.


One of Leslie’s responsibilities is to improve the level of academic awareness.  Ms. Gant effectively leads teachers in weekly content meetings. Teachers note that they leave these meetings with tangible tools and strategies that can be used in their classrooms. “Inquiry Cycles” is another example of a program which Leslie has expanded to different grade levels at the middle school level. Its goal is to build capacity to use data effectively to inform instruction and instructional practices. Leslie accomplishes this by regularly meeting with staff by grade levels to discuss target populations.  One result is a noticeable improvement on MCAS for many students in the areas of math and English/Language Arts. Leslie’s ability to implement the “Inquiry Cycle” concept has been so successful that she has been asked to present it to other Boston Public School principals.


Leslie’s belief in acknowledging the work of teachers is evident in spearheading nomination for recognition awards and obtaining grants for instructional materials.  Her colleagues appreciate her commitment to “creating an environment that challenges us to work on our weaknesses, but acknowledges we also have strengths that are sufficient enough to reap rewards.”


Leslie's  former roles as a classroom teacher, lead teacher, cluster leader, and School Site Council member have given her skills that she constantly and effectively uses in her work:  providing useful feedback to teachers about what they can do to improve their instruction and classroom management, initiating collegial conversations that challenges yet motivates teachers to strive for excellence, and creating positive relationships with teachers, students, and parents.

Suzanne Gillam, 2000

"Principal Suzanne Gillam of the Bird School in Walpole makes it a positive place for staff and students alike." Her nominators state that Suzanne is always thinking! A woman of vision, she involves, unites, motivates, and rewards preadolescents. Their eagerness to participate in a positive manner helps build character and self esteem. The various programs that Suzanne has developed and implemented provide students with a sense of belonging in a school of five hundred, where discipline problems have declined steadily over the years. The many programs have become a tradition at Bird Middle School that students look forward to and fondly remember.

Suzanne's innovative "Low Cost All-School Programs for High Student Involvement and Spirit" have been incorporated into the fabric of the school. The token economy system initiated by Suzanne is one such initiative. "Bird Bicrons" earned by students as incentives and as pay for school jobs. These are deposited in the school's "Bicron Bank" and used at the end of the year when advisories can buy a myriad of activities in which to participate during Bird's Bicron Bonanza Week. Physical challenges abound such as the slippery slope of whipped cream in the final round that students must navigate.

As Bird Middle School's priority is student achievement, Suzanne instituted a Student Recognition Program a number of years ago when it wasn't "cool" to do well in school. This program has changed attitudes by creating a positive school culture revolving around various categories: academic performance, conduct and effort, participation and achievement, school service, perfect attendance, and a special category called "GOZUPINZ" for those in terms II and III who go up in all their grades. Students are honored at grade level assemblies over which the principal presides.

Yearly theme programs have included "Champions for Learning" and "Keys to Academic Success." Students and staff spell out the theme by earning individual letters as rewards and incentives for various accomplishments. If a student spelled the "Keys" theme, he/she received a "Key Pin," which was proudly worn with an opportunity to pick a key and open a treasure chest of prizes. The theme for this year is "Merit Millennium Medals" and at this point in the school year a large of percentage of students have earned their medals.

A guiding force, Suzanne has made Bird a model of middle level education for a skills based, team taught, child centered approach to learning. The Student Assistance Team, the Student Action Committee, an all school homework telephone line, parent sponsored after school activities, parent evening programs are additional examples. For teachers, there are many professional development programs including topics such as multiple intelligences, critical thinking, and integrated learning . The school improvement plan has been dedicated to technology development and there are now several computer labs, and every class and office space has computer education opportunities. Suzanne Gillam has the respect of and appreciation by students, their families, and staff. She has been and continue her dedication to the Walpole school community.

Beth Glick, 2013

Beth Glick serves as Guidance Counselor and Assistant Principal at Bowman Elementary School, Lexington Public Schools, MA. In 2006, when Leonard Swanton, newly appointed interim principal of the Bowman Elementary School in Lexington, first came to the school he was told over and over again that Beth Glick was the “heart and soul” of the school by both parents and teachers alike. Larry Greco, Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, who introduced Beth at the Educators Forum, shared a little of what earned Beth that honor.  “As I see it, to be the heart of anything implies two functions: first, to be an essential component of operation as the heart is an essential organ of function in any living animal.  Second, to be the heart of something implies possessing a passionate drive, a pure motivation, as when someone has heart.  Furthermore, it can refer to the capacity to understand, to connect with, and to love those around you, and to do so with conviction acknowledging the value and integrity of each individual.  As for being the soul of a community, I offer that it implies a heavenly awareness whose desire is to foster the creation of a world characterized by peace, respect, compassion and social justice.  These are exactly the qualities that Beth Glick brings to the Bowman School where for the past two decades she has served as guidance counselor and most recently as assistant principal.”  As Kathryn Jones, a first grade teacher at Bowman notes, “Beth’s positive attitude, responsive tone and actions are woven into the very fabric of our school.”  And her colleague, Sarah Levesque, states, “We grow as a staff because of the standards that Beth sets for herself and others.”

Beth possesses and utilizes her uncanny understanding of how the whole works by addressing the needs of individual components.  She addresses the whole child, she addresses the whole community.  Beth would tell you that her philosophy embraces honoring the whole child.  But in fact she honors the whole parent and she honors the whole colleague as well.  This she does by developing a “wrap-around” support system centered on the social, emotional, behavioral and academic well being of children, parents and staff members alike.  As Leonard Swanton remarked, “She has created a broad based, deeply imbedded paradigm of providing appropriate supports and interventions for children and adults within the school that permeate the entire culture of the community.  Through her carefully coordinated consultations with staff, parents, and other professionals, and her extraordinary ability to quickly and nimbly adapt to a myriad of situations, she has created a profound structure of intervention and support at our school.  This structure provides a powerful basis for making academic achievement accessible to ALL children. All of this within a framework of safety and support that enables and encourages professional staff members to reach their fullest potential as educators.”

Beth has developed and implemented both solely and with her colleagues many programs and lessons during her tenure in Lexington.  She developed a tiered intervention system to promote pro-social behavior.  The program traces behaviors that suggest trends and provides individually tailored interventions.  Her lessons have dealt with the themes of making friends, anti-bullying behaviors, developing empathy, understanding the others point of view, and self-actualization.  Jonathan McMullen, a kindergarten teacher, raves about an eight week program that she developed last year, which helped children improve their abilities to listen the first time, handle disappointment, and appropriately advocate for themselves through play-based activities and cognitive work.  In addition, Beth has provided workshops for grieving parents, has provided guidance for teachers and students as to how to handle tragedy, and has counseled children and parents inside and outside of school. Also, she is there to support staff members as they face some of life’s more challenging issues, be it dealing with their own children, or facing the illness or death of a loved one.  As Mary Anton, her principal declares, “Mrs. Glick is amazing in a crisis.”

Larry Greco continues, “ A couple of weeks ago, I had the wonderful pleasure of witnessing this most gifted educator in action as Beth team-taught a first grade class in which empathy skills and the ability to understand the needs and opinions of others were developed.  The class made use of the traffic light model for dealing with conflict, thought and response props, and a clever song that reinforced the concepts of the lesson sung to a familiar tune.  The in-house minstrel herself authored the lyrics and led the singing as she accompanied the class with her guitar.  The Pied Piper has nothing on Mrs. Glick!  So I thought I would aptly close by paying Beth tribute for all the times that she has counseled, mentored, encouraged and empowered, by reciting the reworked lyrics of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”

            Hail on Beth Girl

Hail on by

            Tonight, your time has come to shine

            For all of the dreams that you have made way

            See how they shine

            For all those whom you call friend

            You sailed right behind

            And like a bridge over troubled waters

            You always eased their mind

N. Jerome Goldberg, 1994

Dr. N. Jerome Goldberg, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction in the Natick Public Schools, is recognized for his efforts in having "significant impact on improving the quality of education for children in Natick and for empowering the school staff to update their professional development." The result has been a powerful infusion of ideas and teaching strategies which ripple down to students. Nominators reflect, "Jerry knows the classroom. As a former elementary teacher and reading specialist, he identifies with the needs of a classroom teacher. As a college professor, he brings his practioner's knowledge to educational theory helping students to enter the field and energizing those who are currently in education. As an administrator, he uses his knowledge and experience to enlighten parents in the community." One teacher notes, "Dr. Goldberg is a teacher who has touched my life. He inspires each of us to take the risks that are a necessary part of learning."

Highlights of Dr. Goldberg's many activities include:
1. He designed the The Mini University program, which encourages the staff to earn graduate equivalent credits with improved teacher effectiveness and collegiality as direct results. Courses have included "Non-violent Intervention," "Discipline," and "Cooperative Learning." Some of the classes Dr. Goldberg has taught include: "Understanding Teaching," "The Idea Factory," and "Multiple Intelligences." A study group option encourages professional educators to research specific topics of their own choosing.

2. He was the driving force in establishing a "Scientist in Residence, " first program of its kind in the country. A staff development trainer spent time over three years training staff using a hands-on process in Science and Math in every elementary school. The trainer also spent time with teachers after school and with parents in the evening.

3. Under Dr. Goldberg's guidance, the elementary evaluation system has been reviewed and revised. There is now a focus on various assessment strategies, resulting in a more holistic view of a child's achievement.

Dr. Goldberg also serves as an Adjunct Faculty member at Lesley College as well as Simmons College. He is affiliated with the Saphier Research for a Better Teaching Center: he belongs to a number of professional organizations; and he is past president of the Massachusetts Reading Association.

Maryellen Grady, 2015

Maryellen Grady is an Assistant Principal at Hopkinton Middle School, Hopkinton Public Schools, MA.  She began her career as an English teacher at Blackstone-Millville, Framingham, and Newburyport High Schools.  During her teaching career, she wrote a weekly column for the Community Newspaper Corporation.  Named 1999 Coach of the Year for Cross-Country, Grady is a two-time Boston Marathon competitor, who will also compete in this year’s race.  She received her Bachelor of Arts from Framingham State College and her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Endicott College.

Described by her principal Alan Keller as an educator with “transformational vision,” Grady brings her “can do” attitude to every challenge.  Three years ago, Grady had a heartfelt conversation with some students about what they needed, and  it resulted in her $140,000 Sky’s The Limit Courtyard Project, which will refigure some of Hopkinton Middle School’s unused real estate into an outdoor learning environment complete recreational space, a performance stage, and gazebo.  The entire school community….students, teachers, administrators, parents….. has been involved in the process of assessing needs, coming up with ideas, and generating support.

Since becoming Hopkinton’s Middle School Assistant Principal four years ago, Grady used that same transformational vision to create the school’s Behavior Rubric, a program that instituted a regular discussion block for students, encouraging them to connectthoughtful behavior with pride in their community. This program,like many shepherded by Grady, foster pride and ownership in personal behavior.  

In addition to these large initiatives, Grady’s passionate commitment to students can be seen in every detail of every day.  Hers is an office where students visit to talk, share, vent, and even get some of her “magic” lavender oil, reputed to be an A-maker for most tests.  Students and colleagues praise her ability to make a difference by making connections in large projects and in devotion to small but people-important details.  Members of the school’s counseling department write that, “It takes an exorbitant amount of time to go above and beyond in the many ways Maryellen does.  It is not abnormal to drive by the middle school at eight o’clock at night and still see Maryellen’s car.  She does not leave the building until every parent, student, and staff member’s request or concern has been responded to with care, compassion and respect.”  Colleagues note that “It is this relentless dedication to everyone and everything that makes our school a better place.”

Grady’s legacy does not end with middle school graduation as students continue to make their way to her door long afterwards.  Principal Alan Keller describes how several high school students began a “Define Yourself” initiative aimed helping young girls find their own sense of self-esteem in a world shaped by media misconceptions.  Ashley Olafsen, now a Hopkinton High School senior and TedTalk speaker at a recent MassCue Conference notes, “There is no one more deserving.  Mrs. Grady is the best of the best!  

Maryellen’s colleagues applaud her with equal enthusiasm, noting how her “unparalleled integrity and contagious positivity,” seem to make everything collaborative and everything possible.  From her meaningful New Teacher Academy program to her commitment to listening and caring, she is, as one group of colleagues writes, “truly the matriarch of Hopkinton Middle School and the definition of excellence in education.”

Richard Grandmont, 2001

In less than two years, Mr. Grandmont, a problem solver and forward thinker has made a change and an impression," according to his nominators. As Principal of the Memorial Elementary School in Natick," he has energized the school with his care and concern for the whole community. A most effective and compassionate administrator, he is approachable to students, staff, and parents,"

With students, positive expectations and encouragement are explicit with every student/principal interaction. From the time students enter the school and see the sign which requests that all enter the school with happy hearts, the tone is set. Rick's approach to discipline is based on mutual respect and getting to know one another. In order to enable children to get to know him as a person, he spends time every day in the lunch room conversing and interacting with them, listening to their concerns as well as their accomplishments.

Interactions with the faculty as a whole and with each individual are stamped with respect and caring. Believing in setting goals, he has set a clear example in working with faculty teams in specific programming such as technology improvement for the school; creating a new twenty-four station computer lab and upgrading the computers and Internet access within each individual classroom. One teacher comments, " Richard has significantly influenced my philosophy and approach towards teaching. As he observes his staff, he graciously guides them so they will grow, but he allows them to do so independently. It is my hope to do the same with my students. I want to teach my students in a manner so that I can give them enough guidance while at the same time allow them to learn and grow on their own."

With the parents and community in mind, Rick created a Memorial School Information Brochure, which provides valuable information about school features and accomplishments such as its NEASC accreditation and its emphasis on curriculum. He has rewritten the school handbook, which is now more comprehensive and informative, enabling parents and community members to learn about the school and its guidelines, rules, routines, and philosophy. A Parent Curriculum Enrichment Guide is also being developed to include points of interest such as museums that have connections with the academic curriculum.

Mr.Grandmont is presently enrolled at the University of MA, Amherst in a doctoral program in "Education Policy, Research, and Administration." His doctoral dissertation, The Implementation and Utilization of Democratic Discipline as an Approach to Classroom Management . His philosophy "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," serves him well and also the many others with whom he comes into contact. He is an exemplary model for students, peers, parents and the community.

Av Green, 2007


Avalin Green serves as  Director of Curriculum Instruction and Development in the Westwood Public Schools. Westwood, MA. She was introduced at the Educator’s Forum as:

  • “an extraordinary teacher whose efforts and approach lift all with whom she works,

  • a leader who has a  thorough grasp of  the nature of the challenges facing everyone involved in the educational process and her unflagging commitment to uniting these groups in pursuit of a common goal,…

  • a lifelong learner with enormous intellectual curiosity,

  • an administrator who seeks input from all, values that input, and involves all in decision making.”

Nominators of Av Green, Director  of Curriculum, Instruction, and Staff Development in the Westwood Pubic Schools state that she is the “heart and soul of teaching and learning for the district.”

Av has encouraged multiple programs to strengthen teaching and leaning.  One example is the Curriculum Review Cycle, where teams of teachers and parents first review the curriculum, and then after careful analysis make recommendation.  This is followed by a two year team development and implementation. Responding to teachers who recommended that the traditional report card needed change, Av demonstrated leadership in an initiative involving teachers from every grade, school and special areas, resulting in a new standards based report card at the elementary level.

Av instills a positive attitude and empowers all to be the best they can be. She encourages initiatives that stimulate teacher knowledge and creativity both for veteran and new teaches. She was instrumental in designing and implementing a teacher-centered professional development menu, which keeps student learning at its core.  For each curriculum area and pedagogical need, there are a variety of opportunities, including embedded professional development, teacher led study groups, and graduate level courses.  Av has initiated an teacher induction program, which in addition to on-going new teachers meetings, mentoring, and access to coaches also includes a “Visit A Veteran Program” that expands the repertoire of new teachers through observations in classrooms.

Av has been a consistent advocate for children as leadership has changed at all levels within the district.  Her guidance has supported new administrators, sustained the community’s confidence in the system, and above all, kept children in the forefront.

Superintendent John Antonucci, comments, “Av is wisely credited by fellow administrators, teachers, the School Committee, and parents for playing an integral role in transforming the Westwood Public Schools into the high-performing district it is today. She has high standards, leads by example, promotes the importance of teamwork and collaboration, is a tireless worker and does it all with a positive and infectious enthusiasm.”

Julie Grenier, 2016

Julie Grenier, Manager of Information Services, Los Gatos-Saratoga Unified High School District in CA, is “personally taking our school district with a gentle hand and walking it into the 21st century,”  according to her nominators.

Originally starting off in the role of “Tech Guru,” she was responsive and compassionate to the needs of educators, especially patient with those who struggled with new technology.  She has shifted from the hardware side of things to an emphasis on education technology implementation with her reach extending district wide as well as to other school districts.  

Here are some examples of her leadership:

Julie successfully implemented a district wide Learning Management System called Canvas, with professional supports to approximately 200 teachers.  She realized that educators had different technology needs, and provided small group sessions or one-on-one meetings based on those needs.  In addition she provided support to students and parents.

Julie finds solutions for the needs of the school and students. She developed and conducted training to effectively infuse curricular technology into classrooms.  She nurtured a crew of students as tech assistants, who have helped her to support teachers; this provided the students with valuable, real world vocational skills. 

One initiative that Julie designed and led was “Focus 15,” which was a conference style professional development experience for all district-certificated employees that focused on social-emotional learning and wellness.  The event was a huge success with an overall approval rating of over 90%-- a testament to Julie¹s organization, management and leadership skills.

Julie has become a key member of the “Instructional Leadership Collaborative”.  Through this group she took on a number of initiatives that are having a profound impact on teacher and students at Los-Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District: direct support to teachers in the area of instructional technology; co-facilitating the district’s 1st ethnographic study that focuses on community, parent, student, and staff perceptions related to needs around technology integration and use at the 2 high school sites; and heading up the ed-tech related committees ; and facilitating the writing of the district wide ed-tech plans.

Julie’s knowledge, expertise, and organizational skills are valuable assets for her district!

Jane Hawes, 2002 

Jane Hawes serves as Media Specialist and K -12 Media Director for the Walpole Public Schools. She was recognized for her foresight and outstanding leadership abilities in  creating an exemplary multi-media technology center at Bird Middle School and  revitalizing  the media services and programs offered by the Walpole Public Schools. 

In nominating Ms. Hawes for the Goldin Award, administrators and teacher repeatedly wrote of  Hawes’  collaborative manner of  providing staff training, developing new programs, and  evoking changes in media support services. According to her nominators, the staff and the students respond to Ms. Hawes’ enthusiasm for  research  and innovative uses of technology to assist them in study projects and developing multi-faceted products.  

A media specialist in Walpole for fourteen years, Ms. Hawes entered the system when space and budgets were at a minimum.  Initially, Ms. Hawes serviced all three elementary schools in Walpole.  Through the years, budgets and staffing improved a little but the potential for the use of technology soared.  Not deterred, Ms. Hawes acquired grant money and began establishing student study programs incorporating new software applications, use of the Internet, and multimedia productions.         
In 1996, pressed for space for expanding media activities, Ms. Hawes, in collaboration with the Bird Middle school principal, Suzanne Gillam,worked to remove rows and rows of student lockers to create a learning space . Bird School now houses the M.A.L.L, the Multi-media Access Learning Lab, an exciting location that is used by students and teachers for a wide variety of learning activities. 

When evaluating the quality and value of their own independent work projects, sixth grade students of Bird Middle School often comment that their work and relationship with Ms. Hawes was one of the most rewarding aspects of their project experience.  Many teachers and administrators seconded the students views as they wrote letters of endorsement for Ms. Hawes’  nomination for a Goldin Foundation Excellence in Education Award. 

George Johnson, 2003

What makes an outstanding leader?  Mary Parker Foller says, “The most successful leader of all is one who sees another picture not yet actualized.  He sees the things which belong in his present picture but which are not yet there…..Above all, he should make his co-workers see that it is not his purpose which is to be achieved, but a common purpose, born of the desires and activities of the group.” By these criteria, George Johnson, the Director of Student Development and Program Evaluation for the Needham Public Schools, is an outstanding leader.  Seven colleagues wrote letters in support of George’s nomination for a Goldin award. When recounting his accomplishments, the themes of outstanding leadership, ability, and remarkable personal attributes were underscored time and again. They write with admiration of his ability to grasp the essence of a problem and to work creatively and tenaciously to accomplish the tasks necessary to make positive changes. “He has the uncanny knack of balancing idealism and pragmatism, vision and reality, independence and collaboration, and risk and certainty.”

George has helped Needham to transform itself into a system that is comfortable  working with student achievement data as a method of assessing program performance. He is cited for an action research project focusing on the disparity in achievement between Needham’s black and white students.  With other colleagues, he received a grant from the UMASS Field Center for Leadership and Training to research, develop, and implement measures to address the issue. A comprehensive system is being established, from working with administrators in every school, a full system in-service day for teachers, linkages between parents and schools, and involvement of students in the action project.  The project is on-going, but already it has enabled Needham as a system to confront difficult issues of varying levels of teacher expectations for its students.

George’s colleagues agree that he is a person to go to when a student’s issues prove difficult because he listens and makes decisions without spending precious hours processing extraneous information.  He is uniquely qualified to fulfill the role of problem solver.  He is a psychologist by background and raining.  In his role he supervises the evaluation, development, and delivery of the many special education student services that are provided in addition to mainstream regular programs. Just a few of his areas of responsibility are: special education, guidance, summer school, English as a Second Language, grant development, and adult education.

George has been at the forefront of Needham’s efforts to use focus groups within the community to assess their understanding of and expectations for its public school system.  He has been instrumental in developing the annual Performance Report, which has been very well received by the community.

George is noted to be a remarkable human being.  Meg Hale, who is associated with the Boston Living Center and the Boston AIDS Consortium writes, “He is a humanitarian in the finest sense of the word, continually giving of himself and inspiring others to do the same.”  She praises him for his extensive work as an AIDS advocate, educator and volunteer.  Needham colleagues repeatedly refer to George as a man of remarkable strength and courage who has overcome serious adversity.

Peter Jordan, 2013

Peter Jordan serves as his district's new BSTA Coordinator & Job Coach for the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District in Los Gatos CA. He will work with veteran teachers who want to improve their skills. This year nearly fifty teachers will have the benefit of Peter’s focus on measurable success, collegiality, and collaboration.

Peter started out teaching French, but when the enrollment in French declined, he decided to try his hand at PE and Health.  At one point, the District made Curriculum Redesign Grants available, and Peter and his fellow teacher Rick Ellis had an inspiration.  What if they could take the idea behind the popular fitness regimen, “Crossfit,” and make it accessible to high school students?  Could they change the culture of the school to make PE focus on functional fitness?  Could they make it more holistic?  Instead of focusing on traditional sports, such as soccer, which allow people with more skill to dominate while everyone else sits on the sidelines, could they create a class that would include everyone, no matter what their skill level?

Thus was born the new Saratoga High School PE course.  The PE department got the grant, revamped the weight room, and was off.  Students say the class is amazing. One student commented that the class helped him in his academic classes because it made him more alert and gave him the ability to focus and concentrate.  Another talked about how it relieved stress and helped her relax and sleep better.  Still another talked about facing the “daunting task” of a workout and feeling better about herself because she had conquered something difficult. One commented on the sense of control he had gained over his own life.  All of the students talked about the bonding experience, the feeling of being part of the group.  And one said, “If you had ever told me a PE teacher would become my favorite teacher, I would have laughed.” The best part is that because the activities can be modified and individualized, the class includes everyone. No matter what their skill level or ability, everyone can be part of the group. And word of the class has spread.  Peter receives emails from schools all over the nation and the world asking about the program and how to implement it.

Michael Joseph, 2008

Michael Joseph is Superintendent of Schools for Crosby Independent School District in Crosby, Texas.   Mike began as a math teacher in Crosby in 1983, where he made math fun for all students and differentiated instruction before it was a buzzword. He soon became math department chair and encouraged his teachers to follow his example. He was selected Crosby's first secondary teacher of the year.

In 1994, Mike became principal of Newport Elementary School where he instituted Keystone Character Education, began a Student Council, and, most importantly, made Newport a "team."  Mike was became Assistant Superintendent of Crosby ISD in 2004. In this capacity, he started a New Teacher Academy, founded the 9th grade initiative, and headed curriculum alignment in math and science. He developed a focus group to initiate “Response to Intervention” strategies and provided workshops for their implementation. Mike also restored the practice of differentiated reading and phonics instruction in grades K-4. In 2008, he was unanimously elected Superintendent of Crosby ISD.

These are some of the comments from the numerous nomination letters submitted on Mike’s behalf:

    “He knows everyone by name, from custodians to parents  to students to other staff. “

    “He mentors those working under him.”

    “Mike leads by example.”

    “Mike always deflects praise to peers and subordinates.”

    “He still teaches students even as the superintendent.”

    “Mike has boundless enthusiasm and energy.”

    “Mike is positive, encouraging on a personal level. He still  writes notes and leaves them in staff member’s mail boxes.”

Everyone is special, important, and somebody to Mike Joseph.  As part of a multi-cultural community, he has a special interest in minority and low socio-economic achievement.  He consults regularly with community leaders.  In order to maintain a connection with Crosby citizens, he writes a weekly letter on the district website, which reflects on points of interest as well as informs the public on the weekly achievements and events.  Mike is an active participant in cultural events in the community from the Rodeo to Czech Fest to Quinceaneras to Zydeco dances.

Mike continues to give his input on curriculum.  He maintains high interest in research based instructional strategies to motivation.  Education is his passion.

Diane Kablik, 2014

Diane Kablik serves as K-5 Science Curriculum specialist for the Concord Public Schools in MA. “Every Student A Scientist!”  is Diane Kablik’s vision and action behind curriculum and each of the projects that support student learning and professional development offered to classroom teachers. She is a master at keeping current with new research, developing best teaching practices in elementary science education, coaching new teachers, and integrating technology into an ever changing science curriculum.

Here are several initiatives that encourage engagement, creativity, and interaction with the real world so that every student becomes a scientist::

Diane harnesses community resources to enable teachers to provide authentic and relevant experiences for students both in the classroom and in the field.  One grant that she developed led to a continuing partnership with Dr. Bryan Windmiller, Executive Director of the Grassroots Wildlife Conservation in Concord.  The project allows students to be scientists and conservationists. Students have exposure to presentations in their classrooms from experts; they go on field trips; and they conduct investigations. They help raise Blandling’s turtle hatchlings…the turtles are on the endangered list….and return them to the wild.

Diane co-authored a grant that created an accessible trail and boardwalk for walkers of all abilities that provides access to the historic Assabet River where students conduct science investigations and learn the importance of stewardship of the environment.

Diane developed three mobile Curiosity Carts for the 4th grade Ecosystem unit.  These contain inquiry activities that include skulls, beaks, tree cookies, leaf prints, and other artifacts and resources about natural history of the local environment.  In addition, Diane compiled binder of activities for teachers.

For a 5th grade curriculum unit on the “Ocean,” Diane provides many books, supplies, and other resources for teachers. Wanting students to have a learning experience on the ocean, she found a company that would take 2 classes at a time.  She created stations for groups of student to circulate through a creature tank, look at water samples with plankton, test the water’s turbidity and saline content, trawl and look at the creatures that were brought onto the boat, and even learn how the boat works.

Nominators note Diane’s passion for science and how she shares this with both students and teachers.  Her colleague Anne Egan provides an apt summary. “She fosters creativity in those she touches as she walks them through the hierarchy of thinking skills, from the simple to the complex.  She differentiates instruction to include all students.  Her ability to add or change a variable to initiate a different way of thinking is seamless to those she teaches, yet allows them to think outside the box and be creative.  She gives students the toolkit needed to think intelligently and take risks while forming solutions to hypothetical questions.  Diane truly believes that the combination of science and the mind is an artist’s palate just waiting to be explored.”

Jean Kenney, 2013

Dr. Jean Kenney, serves as Assistant Superintendent for Walpole Public Schools, in MA.  A former colleague, Sandra Einsel, who is Director of Student Services for Holliston Public Schools, comments, “I have known Jean  for approximately eighteen years, including fourteen years when we worked closely together for Walpole Public Schools. Even when you first meet Jean, she immediately reveals her intelligence, her passion for education, her sense of humor and her commit- ment.  Jean is a gifted leader, mentor and an integral team player who has made important lasting improvements to the Walpole Public Schools.  She has also had a positive impact on countless individuals.”

Many of Jean’s attributes were displayed in the profound positive changes she brought to Walpole Public Schools through the first-ever Response to Intervention (RTI) programming, a collaborative project designed and implemented with Sandra Einsel. What is RTI?   RTI provides supports for students “at risk” through regular education.   Jean was the Principal of Fisher School when the school was established as Walpole’s pilot program for RTI. Jean led her staff in “reframing” their job responsibilities, bringing various strategies and programming to Fisher that met the needs of all students.  Simultaneously, Jean and Fisher School teachers piloted a new reading program that had RTI strategies built into it, so that students had a reading program that offered multiple opportunities to learn to read.

These two pilot programs, the Response to Intervention and the new reading curriculum were so successful at Fisher that the referral rates to special education fell as did the percentage of Fisher students needing special education.  Something very powerful was happening.  Under Jean’s leadership, teachers and related service providers at Fisher worked together to meet the needs of all students, and the students progressed and learned.

When Jean’s initiatives were implemented system-wide, Walpole’s special education percentage fell from almost 22% to 15% in just three years.  These sparkling results are directly attributable to Jean. She is a fabulous educator, who challenges herself and others to bring education to all students in such a manner that all students learn and are successful.

The successful work with RTI is just one set of important and successful experiences that Jean spearheaded. Here are a few more general observations about   “Who is Dr. Jean Kenney?

  • Jean is brilliant. She finds ingenious solutions to complex problems, never loses sight of how to put theory into actual practice, and always balances our world of competing interests in a way that puts the needs of the students first.

  • Jean is tireless. After long days of training or meetings you will find Jean back at the office, completing various projects relating to curriculum, Title 1, and technology integration via curriculum within the schools.

  • Jean is collegial.  She is always willing to assist a colleague, with a smile and compassion that is rare. In a setting where there is never enough time, Jean always takes time to help colleagues to achieve their best, because she believes in mentoring others. Jean’s influence has motivated many student teachers, para-professionals, and former students to enter the teaching profession, because Jean took the time to coach them.

  • And through all of the pressure and demands on her time, Jean continues to be an excellent wife, mother and grandmother to her family, while somehow finding the time and energy to earn her doctoral degree a year ago.

  • Jean’s passion for education is inspiring. Jean affects others by simply being herself. She models what is good in education and always brings new and refreshing ideas to her work.

Miriam Kronish, 1995

Ms. Kronish, Principal of the John Eliot Elementary School in Needham, "has an enormous capacity to bring to each moment of her day a zest for life," according to her nominators for the Goldin award. She brings to her profession an unbelievable thirst for learning and a desire to share that passion for knowledge with everyone she meets, or rather encounters, for one does not meet Miriam, one experiences her. " Miriam has the ability to make each individual feel important, valued, and worthwhile. Whether one is turned on to her love of the arts, her excitement about accelerated and integrated learning, her devotion to early childhood education or her support of the critical and creative thinking style practices, one cannot help becoming involved in her passion for each and all of these pursuits.

Miriam is legendary for bringing new ideas, programs, and innovations into her schools. She welcomes creative suggestions and turns them into practical reality, as noted by the nationally recognized "For Spacious Skies" Program , "Right/Left Brain" Development" , and "Accelerated Learning." Ms. Kronish has been responsible for bringing the idea of accelerated learning to Needham, teaching the program, and encouraging teachers in her school to integrate the uses of music, art, and movement with content areas. The Eliot School has been cited as the best example of a public school using accelerated learning techniques in the U.S.

Miriam's love of the arts permeate her school. An accomplished musician, she promotes the learning of arts (music, visual art, poetry, dance, and song) for their own sake and also their uses as instructional methods to teach critical thinking and cooperative learning. "Of all the schools in Needham, I am most likely to get a call from the Eliot School to attend a program that is an original composition by the students in a particular class that blends various areas of the curriculum with art and music and is an altogether magnificent educational experience," comments Fred Tirrell, Superintendent of Schools.

Ms. Kronish is committed to teaching and challenging others to grow with her. As a veteran Principal, she is willing to share her insights and philosophy with her colleagues, and has served as a mentor . She is a frequent teacher and presenter in Needham's Professional Development Program. In addition, she serves as a speaker at regional and national forums, is a leader in the MA Elementary Principals Association, and teaches at Lesley College and Cambridge College. She is noted as a "teacher's teacher par excellence;" wherever she is there are great things happening in education and in people building.

Perhaps the best nomination statement exists on the wall of the Eliot School. Central to the mural developed by children as a reflection of "Community," a town-wide theme, is the figure of Miriam playing the piano and surrounded by children. Clearly, what makes Miriam so special is the way she touches them, nourishing in each child his or her own unique special talents.

Kathleen MacIvor, 2003

After graduating from Emmanuel College, Kathleen Regan MacIvor from Needham arrived in Walpole as a student teacher and except for two maternity leaves, never left…….Currently the Assistant Principal and Special Education Chair at the Old Post Road School, Kathleen holds the distinction of having taught in five of Walpole’s elementary schools in grades two, four, and six.

Her nominators had a challenging task in determining which of Kathleen’s many achievements to include in her nomination packet.  Should they focus on her classroom achievements? As Gerri Polo, Old Post Road’s school nurse wrote, “When my children were younger and in the Fisher School, it seemed that all the parents wanted Mrs. MacIvor as their child’s second grade teacher.  Kathy is committed to a high standard of educational practice and professionalism.”  Susan Evans, Kathleen’s principal at the Boyden School concurred when she said, “I have been awed by the manner in which Kathleen has managed her classroom and her  parents with such wonderful diplomacy, such genuine warmth and care, and meticulous attention to detail and responsibility.”

Should they focus on her contributions to the school?  As Susan Moniz, a 4th grade teacher at Old post Road School wrote, “Kathy is a strong leader within the Old Post Road School community.  She has high expectations for every staff member and holds each of us accountable for the responsibilities of our positions.  She is there to offer advice, suggestions, and praise to building personnel and has made school climate one of her priorities.”  Her current principal, Stephen Fortin, acknowledges that “Mrs. MacIvor is a teacher of teachers.  She leads in an exemplary manner, consistently applauding accomplishments and supporting those in need.  Each and every day, she has given of herself in work that has always helped others.  She epitomizes all that is good in education and serves as a role model for all.”

Or should they focus on her impact in the community?  Dr. Alicia Shea, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Grants states, “Kathleen has supported innovative programs, participated in programs for other educators, and developed initiatives for collaboration while continuing to engage in professional development herself.”  She has shared her expertise and leadership skills countless times across the district with committee work involving mathematics, technology, health/wellness, reporting pupil progress to parents, and special education.

 Or was it her highly lauded work as the first elementary school teacher selected to serve on the NEASC Accreditation Commission following two years as the Accreditation Chairperson at the Fisher School, which resulted in their being granted Charter Status?

 Teachers and administrators both agree that Kathleen is what is termed these days as “authentic.”  They feel privileged to observe and work with such a gifted educator. As one parent exclaimed, “There should be a Mrs. MacIvor in all of our lives.  We would all be the better for having worked with and learned from such a wonderful educator.”

Jan McAlister, 2007

Janis McAlister serves as Assistant Superintendent of Student Services in the Cambrian School District, Silicon Valley, CA region.  Seven nominators, including a superintendent, principals, teachers, and parents, painted a picture of a woman who has made an amazing impact in her role.  Two themes were emphasized:  the special programs Jan has created, and the confidence that colleagues and parents have that she will help them in solving difficult problems.

Midge Jambor, Principal of Fammatre Elementary School wrote: “In addition to her background in student services, Jan is knowledgeable about curriculum and passionate about doing what is best for all students. She has designed several unique programs to meet the special needs of students, one specifically designed for our special day preschool children with delayed learning profiles. She uses data effectively to help guide decisions, and is sensitive about the complexity of each child’s needs and abilities.”

Jan McNamara, Resource Specialist teacher at Ida Price Middle School, wrote, “In special education, we often have difficult situations to deal with.  Mrs. McAlister is often challenged to reassure parents, teachers, and staff at large that we will be able to work through these difficult situations and we will find constructive and meaningful ways to help educate these students.”

There are a wide-range of programs which Jan has spearheaded in her district. Several of the most important have been the preschools targeting autistic children and the alternative school for middle school students. In her role as Director of Special Education, she has helped place innumerable children in programs to meet their needs. Along the way, she has had to become somewhat of a legal expert. She has done work related to the summer schools for “at risk” students.  She has written grants to underwrite a district medical insurance for families who couldn’t otherwise afford it for their children.  These days, she spends a lot of time in “crisis management,” supporting the four elementary schools and one middle school in situations involving discipline problems in the general student population.

Jan’s early background as a school psychologist, as well as her unflappable personality, are a great boon to her in these varied situations.  In addition to two masters degrees, one in Special Education and one in Curriculum and Instruction, Jan holds six credentials – Regular Education, Learning Handicapped, Resource Competency, Pupil Personnel Services, Administration, and perhaps, most notably, School Psychologist.  Jan still works as a part-time psychologist for West Valley College. Because of her decades of experience as a psychologist for people of all ages, she has a sort of “cradle-to-grave” perspective. Her extensive experience helps her to give good advice on the “long picture”, the overview for the teachers and parents of the young children in her district.

Jan inspires confidence.  It is reassuring that our public schools have educators like her working for our children.

Elizabeth (Liz) McGonagle, 2015

Elizabeth McGonagle is  Executive Director at The Education Cooperative, a consortium of 15 scgool districts in metrowest Boston, MA.

The word “visionary” describes one who is imaginative, creative, inventive, prescient, and original.  According to her nominators, Liz McGonagle, personifies these adjectives.  Liz communicates  her vision for the success of all students to realize their potential through her limitless commitment to their growth in learning as evidenced by the multiple initiatives that she has developed, supported, and expanded. Some examples are evident in the special educational services provided for students: PreK through age 22 through the TEC Campus School, Network programs, Phoenix School, TEC Alternative High School, and a wide range of consulting services.

Additionally, Liz has enhanced access to learning for students of all abilities, talents, and interests by expanding the TEC Online Academy, which provides virtual learning opportunities taught by TEC member teachers.  One of her nominators eloquently states, “One of Liz’s great strengths is her ability to imagine, envision, and then communicate a future path that leverages the best of what is, with the leading edge of what could be, given the technology available to meet educational needs.”

Liz not only thinks in terms of what is available, but also what can be accessed or envisioned to improve student outcomes. TECCA, The Education Cooperative Connections Academy, the 2nd Massachusetts virtual school, is a living example of this vision realized.  Liz spent countless hours of research; informed and educated others; assembled a group of leaders; developed a founding board of trustees; and wrote and piloted the application for a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School certificate.  She generated local and political support, and she continues to guide the board of trustees and school leaders.

Another nominator notes, “Liz’s successful commitment to support some of Massachusetts’ best teachers and administrators requires a balance of intelligence, integrity and compassion.  She personifies those values every day.”  Committed to fostering growth in all of the adults with whom she works, Liz holds herself to extremely high standards, and is a role model for administrators, teachers, students and parents.  She exemplifies perseverance, collegiality and professional collaboration, which extends outside of the TEC community to her colleagues across the state and beyond. 

Above all, Liz McGonagle demonstrates excellence in education by her unwavering commitment to all students and their individual needs, resulting in high rates of success while improving access to higher level learning for all students and adults.

Sandra McGonagle, 2015

Sandra McGonagle serves as  Principal of the Blach Intermediate School, Los Altos School District, CA. Her love of learning, her love for her students, and her unfailing faith that both students and teachers can be amazing are at the core of her motivation.  Her nominators note that she is a principal who “leads by example with very strong student centered beliefs.  Sandra is a capacity builder who first helps her staff see the possibilities and then strategically builds in the support to help them realize their own capabilities to create new learning opportunities for students.  She is actively engaged and involved with every aspect of the school.  Students, staff, and parents find her very accessible and open to new ideas.”

Sandra taught for 12 years: sixth grade--core, language arts, science, wherever there was a need.  She shone in the classroom, and was asked, in addition to maintaining her own responsibilities as a teacher, to be a mentor and coach for other teachers.  Five years ago, Sandra moved from teaching and coaching to administration because she believed that change would require a new take on leadership and inspiration.           

As principal, Sandra supports her teachers, and encourages them not only to hone skills they already have but also to stretch and expand into new areas.  She has focused on the use of technology to help differentiate student learning and to enhance instruction, and she spends time with her teachers personally, working on these skills.  One teacher said, “Sandra has been great about ‘holding my hand’ to get things updated on my website.  I’m not that facile when it comes to things like ‘google drive’ and she’s been marvelous about helping me.”  Sandra also personally substitutes in classrooms so that her teachers can take advantage of professional learning opportunities.

Sandra encourages her teachers by making sure they have the materials they need to be innovative and inventive.  One of her teachers managed to obtain a single whiteboard desk for her classroom.  The desk was a hit—everyone wanted to sit there, wanted to work there—so Sandra found the resources to get whiteboard desks for the entire class.        

Sandra leads by example.   Convinced that students need opportunity to pursue an area of personal passion during the school day, she created a new elective learning experience.  Based on Google’s innovative idea of allowing employees free time (20%) to explore their passions, she invented the “My 14% Class.”—and the first year, she taught it herself.  Examples of students’ independent studies include:  a living garden wall, a cookbook, a movie, a documentary.  The program continues and is now is facilitated by another teacher.

Another innovation is a reformatting of parent-teacher conferences.  Gone are teachers at tables in the gym with parents waiting in line to chat for a few minutes with a teacher that is less than private.  Instead students are part of the conversation, and they join their parents with a focus on student learning and growth in a given class as opposed to a review of grades.

With growing recognition of the need to teach differently with teachers using instructional strategies such as project based learning, blended and mastery based learning, Sandra led the effort for block scheduling.  She started out a year in advance, getting input from staff, the entire Blach community, and students.  This new scheduling allows students to explore and delve deeper into topics of study.    

Sandra’s been a principal for five years in the Los Altos School District, and soon she will expand her leadership and inspiration as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the district.

Theresa Molinelli, 2015

Theresa Molinelli is the Principal of George C. Payne Elementary School in Moreland School District, San Jose, CA.

"A dynamic, collaborative and dedicated instructional leader… the most dynamic and innovative principal with whom I have had the privilege to work…a passionate leader building strong connections with students, parents, and staff, she deals sensitively with challenging events and issues.”  Theresa’s nominators unanimously agree that she truly represents "excellence in education." 

Theresa skillfully addresses the concerns and needs of all interested parties: students, staff, parents, district administrators, and the community at large.  Throughout the day, she is highly visible on campus, creating positive connections with students; she knows over 600 students by name!  She has implemented a variety of successful programs in support of academic success and a positive school climate: the Homework Intervention Club, Panther Pact, a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Program, the Mouse Squad, a Computer Coding Club, and Check and Connect, a program designed to connect a child with an adult other than his or her classroom teacher. In addition, Theresa encourages the parent community to become involved at school by participating in summer play dates for incoming kindergarteners, family education nights, movie nights, school dances, and most recently, Community Based English Tutoring, a program assisting second-language learner parents to be more involved in their child’s school community.

Theresa Molinelli inspires. Teachers describe her as “dynamic, innovative, and approachable.”   They are given time and opportunity to share concerns, new ideas, and effective strategies.  Evaluating student achievement results that showed diversity within each grade level, Theresa led her team in coming up with a new model of instruction…. flexibility grouping of grade level students among classrooms.  Teachers stopped seeing students as “my class” and instead viewed them as “our grade level population.” They value dedicated collaboration time in which to analyze student achievement data and map curriculum and benefit from meaningful professional growth opportunities.  Theresa also implemented an Intervention Leadership Team to further support student learning. Under her leadership, student achievement has increased significantly, and as academic achievement increased, negative behavior decreased. Payne Elementary School was selected as a 2014 California Distinguished School.

Theresa has been married to Paul Molinelli, also an educator, for 21 years and has 2 sons: Andrew, 10, and Matthew, 4. she grew up in Maryland earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Organization in 1988, from the College of Notre Dame. Immediately after graduation, Theresa joined JVC, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, an organization committed to providing direct service to people who are poor and marginalized.  She began a career in education teaching fifth and sixth grades and high school algebra in inner-city Los Angeles schools. Theresa earned a Master of Arts Degree in 1994, and in 2001 she received a Doctorate Degree in Education, Organization and Leadership from the University of San Francisco. She has taught second grade at Baker Elementary School, and she has served as Teacher on Special Assignment and Assistant Principal of Baker Elementary School and Country Lane Elementary School.

As principal of Payne Elementary School for the past 6 years, Theresa is the ideal leader for the Professional Learning Community.  She actively promotes a climate of achievement, fosters a caring school climate, and accepts no limits on the learning potential of any child or colleague.

Stuart Peskin, 1996

How does one person emerge from a large faculty into a strong leader who has organized a diverse staff, welcomed last year over two hundred community members into the daily life of the school, and continues to oversee the dramatic rise of students' MEAP test scores? Stuart Peskin, Principal of Bennett-Hemenway Elementary School in Natick, has set a climate of respect for the learner throughout the building of 450 students. At the same time, the atmosphere at the Ben-Hem School is charged with energy and expectation for growth on the part of all.

Stu sets the example of learner/participant through his involvement in a myriad of staff development programs that encourage and empower teachers with learning about innovative ideas and encourage risk taking as teachers implement the ideas. An example reflects Stu's philosophy of equity for all students, namely the inclusion of special needs students a major priority at Ben-Hem. There has been training of staff, outside observational time, and a gradual transition to the process.

Stu strongly urges all staff members to be involved in "The Skillful Teacher" course and has provided common planning time for staff members to do peer coaching and share ideas. His commitment to continuing professional development includes partnerships with several colleges in teacher preparation, with a win-win situation for all at Ben-Hem as college students welcome the opportunity to participate in the exemplary pre-school program, the inclusion model of special education, and the quality of educational programs at all levels. The group of 8-10 college students, a departure from the typical 2-3 per school, are incorporated into the everyday life of school, receive special seminars from the principal; and often get dual certification in general and special education, Ben Hem being one of three sites in the state where this is possible. In return the school's students and faculty receive the dynamism of the teachers in training and also receives many vouchers for graduate courses which are used by Ben-Hem teachers and others in Natick.

Stu's many nominators express that they are continually impressed with his ability to create an open and welcoming school environment, his drive to look constantly for different ways to improve Ben-Hem, and his tireless and wholehearted dedication to the children. The parent volunteer efforts have blossomed, largely due to his participation, unflagging praise and moral support, and physical support, too. Whether scooping ice cream at the Ice Cream Social, unloading plants for the Spring Flower Sale, helping volunteers in the Parent Computer Volunteers in the Classroom Program or roller skating with the children at the Roller Derby Party, Mr. Peskin is involved and enthusiastic.

This "community school" reaches out, as well. Stu fosters School/Business partnerships as a part of curricular extensions. Building 19, Stop and Shop. and the Longfellow Sports Club have strong connections with Ben Hem. A local nursery assisted students in hands-on plant care and has been a model for business enterprise. One grant from a local engineering firm provided opportunities for students to learn about recycling, ecology, and the environment culminating in a school-wide production.

To summarize, Stu Peskin is visible, accessible, hard working, and dedicated. He gets thing done. He loves kids, and involves others in the lifelong learning process that he espouses: teachers, parents, and the community. He truly loves his life's work.


Carol Pilarski, 2016

Carol Pilarski serves as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development in the Lexington, MA School District.  She is responsible for many innovations includ-ing leading the move to full day kindergarten. Carol assembled a task force of kindergarten teachers from across the district and included and valued all voices at the table.  Another project was moving the district from a traditional report card to a Standards Based Report Card.  (SBRC)  Carol facilitated a large committee of teachers, specialists, curriculum leaders and administrators on a three-year journey as they carefully designed performance indicators and standards for academic as well as pro-social behaviors. In fact, Lexington Public Schools has been sought out by other districts to use the Lexington model as a guide in the development of their own Standards Based Report Cards.

In November 2014, Carol orchestrated an all-day professional development for all teachers in Lexington that has been des-cribed as inspiring, collaborative and joyful. The program utilized educators from all grade levels within the district sharing their best practices. “Lexington Learns Together” was repeated in 2015 and will be the standard for excellence in professional development for many years to come.

Carol’s colleagues use superlatives to describe her work as the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Learning in the Lexington Public Schools. One colleague wrote “Carol Pilarski is the definition of a supportive professional.  She is a leader who leads by one’s side, is always available for consultation and support, is thoughtful and analytic in dealing with complex situations, and has a knowledge base that is extensive and complete.  Ms. Pilarski leads with attention to heart and attention to detail, scaffolding experiences so all participate, all learn, all grow.  More importantly, Ms. Pilarski is the kind of leader that staff at all levels respect, seek out and admire.” Another wrote, “I continue to be amazed at the level of professionalism Carol exudes, her unwavering sense of calm, and her intelligence.” A third colleague wrote, “Carol promotes a culture that blends ‘growth mindset’ for all students and adults with accountability for student learning outcomes in a manner that engenders trust and innovation.” Another colleague wrote, “Perhaps most importantly, Carol is a compassionate individual who combines intellect with humanity and humility to bring out the best in others.”

Beth Glick, an assistant principal at the Bowman School in Lexington, also serves on the Advisory Board of the Goldin Foundation. In her introduction of Carol at the Educator Forum, she described Carol as, “a visible, approachable leader. When Carol enters a school, she can be heard checking in with staff, inquiring about their families and eager to hear about their work with students.  In classrooms, Carol can be seen leaning down to talk with students and asking them to share their thinking with her.  She is a leader and friend to many, and she always credits the good work of the district to the expertise of the collective group.”

Ms. Glick went on to explain that many educators wrote letters of recommendation for Carol for this Excellence in Education award. She shared a personal reflection: “Twenty-one years ago I came to Lexington as a new counselor at Bowman Elementary School.  From the moment that I met Carol I was in awe of her kind, calm, intelligent and heartfelt leadership. As she does with everyone in the Lexington Public Schools, I remember how she made me feel important and valued. Carol has guided and advised me in many ways over the years and was a tremendous support as I moved into an administrative role.   She is a ray of light and is one of the most powerful advocates that I know - for students

and families, for staff, for faculty, and for fellow administrators.  When most people think of Carol, they think of her grace, her humility, and her humanity.”



Lisa Reynolds, 2011

Lisa Reynolds serves as Principal at the Blossom Hill Elementary School, Los Gatos Union School District, in Los Gatos, CA.

"A visible principal on our campus, making connections and building relationships within our school of the most positive, effective administrators I have ever experienced...patient, genuine, and sensitive, but always professional and child-centered."  Nominators of Lisa Reynolds, principal of Blossom Hill Elementary School in the Los Gatos Union School District, unanimously agree that she truly represents "excellence in education."


Lisa grew up in Seattle, Washington.  She has been married to Alan Reynolds for twenty-three years and has a twenty-two year old daughter, April.  Lisa received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Elementary Education in 1985, from Western Washington University in Bellingham.   Having moved to the Santa Cruz area immediately after graduation, she began her career in education in the Pajaro Unified School District where she taught sixth and seventh grade cores at EA Hall Middle School and fourth and fifth grades at Ohlone Elementary, a science magnet school.  In 1992, Lisa received her Administrative Credential from San Jose State University.  She has served as vice-principal at Hall Elementary School and Valencia Elementary School and principal of Calabasas Elementary School.  This is Lisa's third year as principal of Blossom Hill Elementary School.

In any school there are many groups with vested interests:  students, staff, parents, district administrators, and the community at large.  It is evident from the letters of nomination that each of these stakeholders feels supported, respected, and appreciated by Lisa.  She is more often found out of her office connecting with students, staff, and families.  She is ever present in her students' day, taking a genuine interest in them, encouraging them, and having fun with them.  She is clearly a part of their lives as they are a part of hers.  

Lisa goes out of her way to make everyone feel special by recognizing individuals’ needs and talents and doing what she can to foster them, which develops positive self-esteem and leads to a strong bond and sense of community within Blossom Hill. Statements of endorsement were submitted not only from individuals but also from entire grade level teams.  Teachers speak warmly of Lisa's energy and enthusiasm, her interest in them as individuals, her recognition of their strengths, her ability to get people involved, her unfailing support, and her ability to sensitively deal with challenging events.   Administrative Assistant Michelle Strachan remarks, "Her leadership feels like a safety net, or even more like a trampoline, breaking a fall and launching us all upward."

Lisa Reynolds actively promotes a climate of achievement, fosters a caring school climate, and accepts no limits of the learning potential of any child or colleague.  She is the ideal leader for the Professional Learning Community that is Blossom Hill Elementary School.       

Joy Sacca, 2004

Joy Sacca has been an elementary school educator for more than thirty years. Prior to accepting a teaching position at the Edith Baker School in Brookline, Joy Sacca taught in a combined fourth and fifth grade, heterogeneously grouped classroom at Heath School in Brookline. At Baker School, Joy proposed the idea of team teaching the three fifth grade classes, with the three teachers specializing in specific subject areas – science, social studies, and for her, math and language arts. Joy’s modus operandi and specialty is always trying to get various groups – teachers, students, and parents – to work together in uniquely productive ways.

Some of the significant comments made in Joy’s nomination papers included:

  • Joy is first and foremost a teacher.  

  • She never loses sight of the centrality of teaching.

  •  She is a gifted teacher, and a thoughtful and reflective vice principal.

  • She is best personnel decision that I have made in the past twenty-five years.

  • Joy inhabits her administrative role with a teacher’s sensibility.

  • Ms. Sacca is … inspirational. She cares about other people’s children as if they were her own. 

  • She is an exceptional listener and an extremely responsive person.

  • Joy has had a most profound influence on me. 

  • Passion for literacy – has taken the initiative to make literacy the pinnacle of our curriculum.

  • Joy believes that young readers should always be able to take something away from every book they read. Every book should add a piece to the child’s life.

  • She is a critical thinker, integrating Bloom’s Taxonomy into the school’s curriculum. 

  • She stimulates academic change and nurtures colleagues to excel.

  • She is committed to helping each child reach his or her academic and personal potential.

  • Her commitment and care for her staff extends beyond the school day

Joy has initiated or been the driving force behind several educational projects at Baker School. These include:                                                                                             1) “The Literacy Initiative” in the Kindergarten to Grade Three Cluster where a team of classroom and English Language Learner teachers, reading specialists, special education teachers, and a guidance counselor work together to provide literacy-related materials for classroom use. The team discusses books, curriculum, materials gathered at conferences, and student concerns related to literacy. Above and beyond her administrative duties, Joy created Baker’s Literacy Team by consulting with the potential team members to discern the most meaningful and valuable use of the team’s time, and then, through her ability to organize, she worked to provide the team with all of the necessary support and materials. The program has been so effective that Superintendent Walsh has repeatedly praised Baker School for having “the best Literacy Team in town.

 2) Joy initiated and organized The Child Case Study Team at Baker School to insure that the individual needs of children were recognized, diagnosed, and prescribed for. The team is made up of teachers and specialists who have volunteered to meet and listen to academic, social, and emotional concerns that are affecting their students. The Team offers teachers knowledgeable advice and the opportunity to see a situation from a fresh perspective

3) Joy is the driving force behind Beach Blanket Books at Baker School at this time of the year. Children and their families are invited for “tasty summer snacks” and to hear stories read by teachers and Ms. Sacca at this end-of-the-year kick-off to summer reading. International parents are invited to read stories in different languages. Joy organized this event about five years ago to get the children, staff and community excited and invested in summer reading. A town public librarian attends the party to help the children sign up for library cards. 

Joy Sacca is an inspiration.  She truly energizes all whom she meets.

Audrey Seyffert, 1998

Audry Seyffert serves as the Administrator of Pupil Services for the Natick Public Schools. Her nominators state that she is “the personification of dedication, creativity, and understanding in the support of a much misunderstood student population.  She is an articulate spokesperson who has championed special education and pupil support in the Natick Schools. ‘With her efforts, there are no special needs students in Natick. We have students, some of these students have needs, and some of those needs are identified as special needs.’”

Audrey believes in the worth of every child and that every child has the right to receive whatever support is necessary in order to achieve success. She is known never to “give up” on a child nor to succumb to negativity in dealing with confrontive parents or teachers.  Her calm intelligent management of crisis is exemplary, and her thoughtful purposeful approach most often results in smooth non-confrontational resolution of problems.

On a daily basis Audrey demonstrates the positive impact that an administrator can have on the lives of students.  Inclusion of students in the regular program brings unique situations, and Audrey solves problems and assists teachers and staff as they arrange transportation, tutoring, and other accommodations.  She works closely with newly hired teachers to have specialized in-service training, which are often for the entire staff.  Audrey has been active in fostering communication between all constituencies, from newspapers, forums, and parent’s groups to presentations at individual schools. While she has established many successful programs tailored to meet the specific needs of identified populations, she continuously examines current programs and practices reflecting on ways on make them even more effective.

Audrey is a tireless advocate who puts students first and does what she thinks is their best interests.  She is known to be “the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.” 

Stephen Theall, 2006

 Stephen Theall has served as Superintendent of Needham Public Schools in MA. He is the first superintendent to receive this honor. Steve completed twenty-one years in the Needham Public Schools, the last seven as superintendent and before that as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Personnel and Director of Personnel.  Prior to Needham, he worked in the Cambridge School System as a teacher and administrator. When Steve retires in June, he will have left a legacy that will remain for future generations of learners.

 ……a genuine leader…a visionary leading quietly from behind…..a strong student advocate…..a role model for other administrators.” Nominators of Steve, who are all former Goldin award recipients, collectively state, “He made it possible for us to achieve whatever we may have accomplished.”

There are many professionals whose careers have been enhanced by Steve Theall’s leadership, mentoring, and support. Marcia J. Berkowitz, Director, Student Support Services, notes, “Steve has demonstrated impressive skills in meeting the demands of varied constituent groups. Staff feel supported; parents respect his opinion; and his Leadership Team values his desire to maintain high standards

Kathryn D'Addesio, Classroom Teacher, adds, "He has always been a teacher's advocate and proponent of initiatives that support a teacher's individual and professional growth.”

"When he became superintendent,” notes George Johnson, Director of Student Development, “Steve worked with the staff and community to create a shared vision that focused on standards-based education, social and emotional learning, and communication and accountability to the community.  The work in these goals has been strategic, comprehensive, and enduring; and Needham is recognized for its accomplishment in these areas."

Steve’s nominators speak of the trust and integrity and network

of support that he has established in and with the Needham community.  The impact of this trust, that was gained and maintained over time, has impacted a number of measures. Annual Performance Reports to the community have served as an important way to communicate and hold accountable the goals and progress in all areas of operation. Satisfaction surveys from parents indicate significant approval for all aspects of the school. The schools have enjoyed financial support from the town.  Relationships between the school and the other town departments have never been stronger.  And the school board and school personnel have had a supportive collaboration for many years.

As a role model for other administrators, Steve has exercised his leadership with honesty, respect, and a positive attitude.  He respects and values the knowledge and expertise of his colleagues and gives them room “to fly.”  A dedicated and committed professional, Steve has high standards for himself and others, compassion, and a dedication to student achievement.

Steve has left a legacy that will remain for future generations of learners.

Karen Tower, 2016

Dr. Karen Tower is the Assistant Principal of the Blanchard Memorial School in the Acton Boxborough School District, MA.  She has established herself as dedicated and passionate to students, staff, parents, and the larger Blanchard Community. Colleagues and parents describe her in a variety of ways: “life­long learner; unyielding empathy; catalyst for inspiration; passion for learning and education.”

As a leader in curriculum and instruction, Karen has made a lasting impact on her school community. Karen collaborated with other staff to create Blanchard’s Leveled Library, providing students a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts to address all independent and challenge levels. In addition, Karen created a “Read Box,” a book borrowing system for students (similar to the “Red Box” for movies). Karen also leads professional development and facilitates workshops to help educators further their knowledge in literacy, with offerings such as “Best Practices in Writing” and “Giving Effective Feedback in Reading and Writing.”

Not only is Karen a lifelong learner; she also provides opportunities for colleagues to join her on that journey. Parents and teachers describe her as being an “exceptional administrator because her efforts on a day-­to-­day basis in her school go above and beyond. Karen has made it a priority to balance teachers’ responsibilities, meetings, and paperwork. She also finds time to be a presence in the classrooms. Kristen Kilcommins, a Kindergarten teacher at Blanchard, related an experience of doing a fairy tale unit with her class. Karen worked with the students on building fairy houses using natural materials. She then returned to the class and surprised the students with a short story she created based on ideas from the children themselves. As a final component to the unit, Karen worked with the classroom teacher to conference with each student to plan and his/her own individual stories.

Karen is invested in directly impacting the educational experiences of the students in her school. Four years ago, she was instrumental in organizing Response to Intervention (RTI) groups in her school, based on tiered levels of support that students may need.  In order for such an initiative to be successful, several key components must be put in place. Educators must identify useful assessments to use, and be given time to analyze the data, and plan the interventions. This time can be hard to come by, but is necessary to provide well-thought out strategies for how to support students. Not only has Karen been a leader in making the time for all of this to happen, she is an active and engaged participant. When meeting with teacher teams to look at data in order to determine which students need interventions, she collaborates with the teachers to determine what and how these interventions might be implemented.

Actions that some would deem as “little,” such as knowing every student’s name in her school, or hosting lunches with groups of students, place Karen in a league all her own when it comes to being a compassionate and exceptional leader. These “small actions” are those which students remember, sending the message to all of them that they are cared about and that they matter. Dr. Karen Tower exemplifies what an administrator should be. She holds herself to high expectations, and she is recognized by colleagues and parents as loyal, sincere, supportive, and dedicated.

Nathaniel Vaughn, 2014

Nathaniel Vaughn serves as Principal of Blake Middle School in Medfield, MA.  Community, communication, and collegiality are buzzwords at Blake Middle School. Nat creates a dynamic environment where teachers are encouraged to develop professionally, inspired to tackle new initiatives, and collaborate on best practices. The results lead to highly positive climate with a ripple effect for active student learners.

Nat’s nominators comment on his contributions in creating has created a school wide professional learning culture and community that is based on thoughtful reflection and growth. Many satellite learning communities have been established such as one that discusses the role of homework in the learning process and another that examines the impact of bullying.

Faculty meetings are thoughtfully developed. Nat provides articles for teachers to read and reflect upon before and during faculty meetings.  Reflections from faculty members as to “Why I Teach”….reasons for becoming a teacher and  what sustains them is a regular segment as Nat feels it important for teachers to really know one another in this community.   There are ample opportunities to share best practices, discuss and practice observation and evaluation techniques. Each week he crafts a “Natworthy” letter to his staff and offers insights to take forward into the work week.

Students are the ultimate recipients of this active teaching and learning environment.  Some highlights:

  • The Math Intervention Program where students receive small group tutoring during the school day with a certified math teacher.

  • Infusing technology in classrooms with an IPod pilot program that expanded to every 8th grade student while making sure the teaching staff had the proper allocation of time, resources, and training.

  • Community service: creating a Veterans Day Assembly with local veterans as honored guests and students writing letters of appreciation to every veteran living in Medfield.

  • “Let’s make sure all students at Blake have an adult they can turn to for help.”  Concerned about the quality of social interactions students have at school, Nat asked students to complete a survey asking them to list an adult at Blake as a resource; the hope was to identify students that have no connection and change that. Each student is now linked with a caring adult.

Nat fosters an environment that “leans toward ‘Yes.’” He often replies, “Why wouldn’t we” in response to many ideas that colleagues present.  This fosters a culture of experimentation, creativity, and leadership.  Everything is followed by reflection, which has been woven into the school culture.  Orla Berry, Science Content specialist summarizes, “Nat is a teacher and leader whose sphere of influence is significant greater than he realizes. He is that teacher/leader for whom everyone wants to do their best recognizing that this is what he wants and hopes to achieve for all his constituents.  His patience and willingness to listen is unbounded as he inspires teachers, content specialists, and administration colleagues to work through and learn from difficult situations.  He is a remarkable principal.”

Marlene Veldwisch, 2014

Marlene Veldwisch is Director of Development at the Mario Umana Academy, Boston Public Schools in MA. With the steady calmness of a meditation instructor, the steely determination of an MBA executive, and the snappy energy of a self-proclaimed “gym rat”, Marlene Veldwisch has brought transformative change to businesses, non-profits, and currently schools.  A product of the Boston Public Schools, from elementary through high school, Marlene has worked for BPS since 1997 and has been the Director of Development at Mario Umana Academy in East Boston for the past four years.  This comes after a successful corporate career at Blue Cross Blue Shield and as a consultant to non-profit organizations and as a change and instructional coach in 15 BPS schools. She was also co-founder of Boston Day and Evening Academy, an alternative program in Boston for overage, at-risk students.

At the Umana Academy, a K-8 school, Marlene has brought an abundance of resources through her grant writing and partnerships. She raised over a half million dollars to support Expanded Learning Time at the school, turnaround teacher teams, numerous arts and music programs, STEM programs,  and outdoor classroom and playground.  Janet Ferone, Goldin Foundation Advisory Board member, comments, “As an almost 30 year employee myself of the Boston Schools, I know how important these resources are especially to a city school where most students do not have the luxury of parent provided arts, sports and enrichment activities nor outside green space, as compared to their suburban counterparts. “ The next big initiative Marlene is spearheading is turning the school into a dual-language environment starting next September, with $25,000 in grant support.

In addition to resources, Marlene brought a paradigm shift from operational issues to instructional improvement, and she dramatically changed the culture at the Umana.  While teachers greatly appreciate the resources, she has worked with them to build their capacity and used her coaching skills to further rigorous instruction and enrichment.  She has served as a professional mentor for teacher leaders, coached teachers to take ownership of the Instructional Leadership Team, and taught teachers the art of grant writing through workshops and technical support.

Marlene’s direct impact on students cannot be overstated. The teachers report that students feel special that an administrator cares so deeply and works so hard for them, and her work has allowed students to discover their passions. A letter from a 4th grader states, “She makes me feel happy because when she comes to the classroom.  She reminds us that she cares about us, and she gave me a backpack with tools in it, in my favorite color, which is pink.”  A voracious reader and writer herself, Marlene is able to bring these talents to the students in the form of reading instruction and a book group.

Marlene is a passionate and skillful advocate for the Umana and its initiatives. With many ripple effects resulting from her innovative programs, she impacts the lives of both her colleagues and students.

Robin Waller, 2010

Robin Waller serves as Assistant Principal at Barbers Hill Kindergarten Center in Mont Belvieu, Texas. She began her teaching career in 1995 in Goose Creek ISD and moved to Barbers Hill in 2000, where she successfully taught struggling readers on the primary and elementary campuses.  One challenging task in her service as a reading interventionist was to motivate and teach 60 third-grade students who were reading on a first-grade level.  Through innovative programs and individualized instruction, she led those children to classroom success.  As the district dyslexia specialist, Robin wrote a handbook that served not only teachers but also parents, who were able, through that information, to assist their children at home to become successful in overcoming their reading challenges.

Every builder or contractor knows that the stability and success of any structure depends on a solid foundation.  That premise is especially true in our profession; what happens in the earliest grades determines what happens in high school and college.  Robin has proved her ability to lay a strong foundation in the educational experience of Barbers Hill ISD students.

One of Robin’s most powerful contributions to student success is the development of a mentor program.  Working with community members, businesses, parents, and school personnel, Robin created a mentorship that connects struggling students with caring mentors on a weekly basis.  The program identifies the students, trains the mentors, and communicates the students’ needs to those mentors.  As assistant principal, Robin has broadened the mentor program to expand a parent volunteer program, through which parents assist in classrooms and in extra-curricular activities.  Robin doesn’t just recruit parents; she trains them and provides them the support they need to be effective.

Robin’s nominators repeatedly stressed her determination, innovation, and love for children.  Attached to Robin’s nomination form are numerous hand-written notes from students, parents, co-workers, and even a school board member.  A former student, Oscar, writes, “Thank you for teaching me how to read a lot better.  I’ll miss you and your treasure box.”  (And he spelled “a lot” correctly!)  A parent thanked her for staying after school to work with her child.  A co-worker thanked her for “stepping up to the plate” at the last minute to handle a presentation.  Dylan, another student, donated a book to the library in her honor.  In his note, he talks about how Robin helped him understand, cope with, and overcome his dyslexia.  He ends by saying he knows he will be successful in the future.

The students, parents, and community of Barbers Hill ISD can rest assured that Robin Waller is doing her part to build a sturdy foundation of academic success and confidence that will support the continuing efforts of those in the district. 

Andrea Wong, 2002

As soon as Andrea Wong assumed the Principalship at Hillside, she began to make a difference. Nominators cite the many small changes in her leadership: Students were elected from each class to work on a student council to suggest ideas and make changes.  Teachers were asked for their opinions and for the first time in many years, they were heard.  The Parent Teachers Council became revitalized, and many parents offered to volunteer.  Friday morning staff breakfasts became a tradition. Under Andrea’s guidance, Hillside became the first inclusive school in Needham; special needs children in grades K-5 were taught in every classroom.

 Andrea has her own high expectations for a strong work ethic, self-reflection and continuous professional growth; and her teachers undertake these same ideals with pride and energy because of Andrea’s leadership and her vision for educational excellence.  Whether the task at hand is analyzing curriculum and assessment, developing effective programs for writing in mathematics, or boosting classroom instruction in writing as a result of weakness in MCAS test scores, teachers are encouraged to share best practices and work cooperatively.

 Andrea is especially cited for her creativity in the development and implementation of a multifaceted literacy plan including an intervention program for all students at risk in reading development. Some of the activities include:

  • a Poet in Residence Program

  • a K-5 program coordinating the efforts of classroom teachers, reading specialists,   resource room teachers, and volunteers

  • an after school homework program to give additional assistance to students at risk and students requiring help in accomplishing homework

  • a coordinated program involving parents, staff, and consultants to address appropriate students and staff support strategies and interventions for students with significant behavioral difficulties

  • a high school peer tutoring  program 

  • a system-wide K-5 learning model based on work of Heidi Hayes Jacobs, providing framework of essential content, questions, skills, learner expectations, and assessment activities

Andrea has forged a school community built on respect, trust, and integrity.  There have been some unusual challenges at the school, and her nominators state that they have “watched Andrea work through problematic situations and even disasters with confidence, poise, humor and compassion.  They summarize her approach to life which is is communicated on a banner at the school entrance, ‘Let All Who Enter Be Gentle and Respectful.’”