The Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) is pleased to announce the selection of the 2014 Assistant Principals of the Year. Congratulations to these outstanding administrators:
- Elizabeth Messler, Assistant Principal, Coleytown Elementary School, Westport; 2014 Elementary School Assistant Principal of the Year
- Albert Sackey, Western Middle School, Greenwich; 2014 Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year
- Joseph Blake, Suffield High School; 2014 High School Assistant Principal of the Year
Joseph Blake, assistant principal of Suffield High School (SHS), has been named the 2014 CAS High School Assistant Principal of the Year. Though an assistant principal at SHS for only two-and-a-half years, Blake’s efforts and influence have dramatically shaped the culture and climate of the school and community.
Nominated for the award by his principal, Donna Hayward, Blake is a leader without pretense or self-interest who is known for his equanimity, his unerring professionalism and his resolute commitment to all members of the SHS community. States Guidance Department Chair Ned Sullivan, “Sometimes I forget that Joe has only been here for a few years. His easy-going manner and poise under pressure have impressed me from the start, but his natural people skills - the ability to poke fun at himself and deflect credit for a job well done onto others - is where he really stands out.” Blake leads by example, always exhibiting the characteristics of integrity, respect, and kindness that he works to instill in his students on a daily basis. “Joe is honest and ethical, maintaining the highest standards of personal conduct at all times,” says Hayward.
Blake is a quietly powerful administrator, as ever ready to learn and listen as to guide and instruct. He empowers his staff to be partners in the decision-making process and works side-by-side with them to develop and implement a vision for improved educational opportunities. He possesses both a strong mind and a compassionate heart, delicately balancing a warm personality with a drive for academic excellence and an insistence on high standards. According to interim assistant principal Dr. Matthew Wlodarczyk, “Joe models personal excellence, collaborative leadership, high regard for curriculum, instruction and assessment, and strives to create a climate embedded with rigor as well as personalization.”
Highly visible and wholly immersed in the lives of his students, Blake is a constant presence in the corridors, classrooms and cafeteria. He can also be found at most every school play, concert and sports event, using all available opportunities to interact with and build relationships with his students. Says Hayward, “Joe connects with kids and parents naturally, as his genuine concern for and commitment to students are visible and unwavering.”
When handling discipline matters, Blake always works with students and their families to find a resolution that is remedial rather than punitive. He makes sure that every encounter with a student, even if it stems from an adverse incident, is an opportunity for new learning. Says Dr. Wlodarcyzk, “Joe sees the need for consistent discipline with students, but keeps a strong focus on the reason for the discipline - the student’s holistic education - and always stresses the learning opportunities in life.” Adds SHS Senior Benjamin Gee, “Immediately upon meeting Mr. Blake I thought how comfortable he made me feel as he treated me with singular attention during our conversation, giving me all the respect that one would normally reserve for an adult rather than a young sophomore. This respect is extended not just to me, but to every student, regardless of the nature of his or her interaction.”
Since his arrival at SHS in 2011, Blake has introduced a number of new technologies to streamline building management and improve classroom instruction. This past year, he worked with colleagues to guide the staff through a comprehensive technology competencies assessment. The results were used to design individualized online learning activities which helped each teacher to more effectively integrate technology into his/her classroom. Furthermore, he spearheaded the school’s transition to online scheduling, resulting in a 29% decrease in scheduling conflicts.
Blake’s success as a building administrator is perhaps summarized best in these words by Benjamin Gee, “To me, Mr. Blake’s greatest quality is the example he sets for others, particularly the students who have yet to enter the professional world. In Mr. Blake, we see a person we can admire, respect and hope to emulate in the future - I know I do.”
Blake received both his bachelor and master of science degrees from Southern CT State University. He went on to earn his sixth year certificate from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. He began his career in education in 1997 as a teacher at Lafayette Elementary School in Shelton. He quickly transitioned to the high school where he taught social studies for three years and, in 2001, was appointed assistant principal at Torrington High School. In 2004, he became housemaster at Fairfield Ludlowe High School and remained there until 2011 when he assumed the assistant principalship of SHS, the position he now holds.
The State Assistant Principal of the Year Program
In this new era of shared leadership, the assistant principal's role has become multi-dimensional. No longer does the assistant principal only deal with student discipline and attendance. Today's assistant principal is often responsible for curriculum and instruction, staff evaluation, community partnerships, public relations, technology, student activities, and many other crucial areas of operation.
The Assistant Principal of the Year Program, sponsored annually by the Connecticut Association of Schools, was established in 1990 to bring recognition to the assistant principalship and to spotlight the critical role that assistant principals play in the education of our youth. The program recognizes outstanding school assistant principals who have succeeded in providing high quality learning opportunities for students. These administrators have demonstrated excellent leadership, commitment to staff and students, service to their communities, and contributions to the overall profession of educational leadership.
Each year nominations are solicited for an Elementary, Middle Level, and High School Assistant Principal of the Year. The winners are chosen by a selection committee consisting of active and retired principals and assistant principals.
State assistant principals of the year must demonstrate success in the areas of collaborative leadership; personal excellence; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and personalization.
All applicants must have been in an assistant principalship for two (2) years or longer.
The Connecticut Association of Schools
Established in 1953, the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) is a non-profit educational organization which supports the interests of Connecticut’s K-12 schools and works to improve educational opportunities for the students of our state. A leader in Connecticut’s education community, CAS represents over 800 of Connecticut’s public and parochial schools. CAS is affiliated with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Association for Middle Level Education, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Federation of State High School Associations.