The following three principals were selected as finalists for the 2016 NASSP National Principal of the Year award:
Plymouth South High School
When Fry arrived at Plymouth South High School 10 years ago, behavioral issues were prevalent, the school’s accreditation was at risk, the building was overcrowded by approximately 400 students, and the failure/dropout rate was a major concern. Fry began the school’s transformation by focusing on the development of increased staff buy-in. By empowering teachers and encouraging consistency, inappropriate student behaviors decreased and focusing on academics became a priority. Making college and career readiness a key goal, she also created an incentive program to encourage students to take AP classes-which resulted in the program’s significant growth and Plymouth being selected as an AP Honor Roll district in 2014. Before Fry arrived, the school was on warning status by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. But last year, the association gave Plymouth a glowing review, listing the “empowerment of staff to lead” as a commendation in their report.
Lexington High School
In a diverse school where language issues, cultural variances, and prevalent poverty present a variety of meaningful challenges, Hoehner has created a culture of high expectations. Lexington students are aligned with at least one adult advocate who monitors their daily academic, athletic, and social wellbeing. Thanks to the warm learning environment created under Hoehner’s leadership, students feel valued and honor the school’s values of respect, responsibility, honesty, and compassion. Over the past five years, he has helped overhaul the curriculum to include honors, regular, and co-taught classes with dedicated special education and English language learner support. The school’s Destination Graduation program also focuses on the academic, social, and behavioral needs of every student-leading to a 10 percent increase in the graduation rate in just three years.
Cumberland High School
Under Tenreiro’s leadership, Cumberland High School has seen increases in academic achievement, graduation rates, and the number of students gaining admission to some of the best colleges and universities in the country. He worked with school leaders, school committee members, and teachers to establish schoolwide standards aligned to each content area to focus curriculum on transferable skills to ensure success after graduation. As a result, Cumberland has doubled its Advanced Placement class offerings and expanded their STEM courses to include pre-engineering, robotics, and a biotechnology pathway. Tenreiro also invested in the school’s current standards-based system, which has led to more uniform expectations for students, clearer feedback to students, and a focus on reporting what has been learned-not just what students have done. Working with a dedicated faculty and staff, Tenreiro has built a safe, positive, respectful, and supportive culture that fosters student responsibility for learning and results in shared ownership, pride, and high expectations for all.