School leaders honored during National Principals Month

Posted Oct. 24, 2011, at 8:01 p.m.

Sixty-one outstanding elementary and middle school principals from across the nation and abroad have been named as 2011 National Distinguished Principals by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. They were honored Oct. 21 at an awards banquet at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., as part of a two-day program.

Established in 1984, the program recognizes public and private school principals who make superior contributions to their schools and communities. The distinguished principals are selected by association state affiliates, including the District of Columbia, and by committees representing private and overseas schools.

Principals honored from Maine are:

• Linda L. Bleile, Wiscasset Middle School, Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit No. 12, Wiscasset. Bleile was a teacher for nearly 30 years at Wiscasset Middle School before becoming the principal in 2002. Her effective partnership with teachers has enabled her to lead the school to become more open and inviting to the community. Wiscasset Middle School serves 214 students in grades five through eight. As principal, Bleile makes teachers feel valued and trusted by “considering their input and professional opinions, addressing them as colleagues, honoring their autonomy in their areas of expertise, and yet holding them to the same high standards that I hold for myself,” she said. To address classroom mold problems, Bleile reached out to town officials and senior citizen residents, among others. Her advocacy efforts promoting a safe, healthy school environment led to a successful renovation of the seven largest classrooms. Bleile also led a transformation in the way her middle school delivers instruction in order to raise student achievement levels. She promoted a team approach to school improvement, participating in research and professional development efforts. The grant application she coauthored resulted in a comprehensive school reform grant that funded new literacy and learning initiatives at the site. Significant increases in students’ performance in math, reading and science followed. Bleile holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine and a master’s degree from the University of Southern Maine.

• Carol A. Hathorne, Hope Elementary School, Union No. 69, Hope School District, Hope.

In 20 years as a principal, Hathorne has headed two elementary schools and a middle school. She arrived at Hope Elementary School in 2000. Her top accomplishments at the rural school include her promotion of the use of data to improve student learning. “By using our time and resources wisely, we’ve developed a system of collecting meaningful data on all students regularly,” she said. “Staff members have become knowledgeable in analyzing this information and identifying needs early in a child’s educational career.” Hathorne also has focused on creating opportunities for teachers to exercise leadership in the school and increasing recognition for teachers’ efforts to make the school work well. The school has team leaders who change every two years provide every staff member opportunities to function in a management capacity. The school also has numerous staff-led committees, including a professional development committee that designs training days. Hathorne has built community connections with her school through such efforts as holding monthly meetings with senior citizens and working with local law enforcers and emergency responders to support the school’s safety team. Hope Elementary has a current enrollment of 161 students in kindergarten through grade eight. Hathorne has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine and a master’s degree from the University of Maine.

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