2015-2016 VPA Principal of the Year Winners Announced

The Vermont Principals’ Association will honor five distinguished educational leaders at the VPA Leadership Academy awards banquet on Wednesday, August 5th at Killington’s Grand Hotel. Nominated by their peers and from the public at large, each of the principals listed below was selected recently by a committee of the VPA Executive Council and past award winners for outstanding building and educational leadership.

  • Robert Thibault, Principal of Springfield High School, is the winner of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, High School Principal of the Year Award
  • Patti Tomashot, Guidance Administrator at Champlain Valley Union High School is the recipient of the NASSP Assistant Principal/Administrator of the Year;
  • Kristin Hubert, Principal of Northwest Primary School in Rutland will receive the National Distinguished Principal Award from the National Association of Elementary Schools Principals;
  • Erica McLaughlin, Principal of Randolph Elementary School will receive the Henry R. Giaguque Vermont Elementary Principal of the Year;
  • Joe Teegarden, Director of Green Mountain Technology & Career Center will receive Vermont Tech Director of the Year.

This year’s award winners were chosen by the fifteen-member VPA Executive Council assisted by the 2014-15 Principals of the Year.

The selection criteria mirrored the Wallace Foundation’s criteria for effective school leaders asking nominators to comment about how the person has-- shaped a vision of academic success for all students, created a climate hospitable for education, cultivated leadership in others, improved instruction and managed people, data and processes to foster school improvement. In addition, the selection committee sought specific examples about how has the leader has created and maintained a healthy school culture, broadened and enriched school curriculum, provided more and better learning time during the school year and summer, ended disparities in learning opportunities created by tracking and ability grouping, used a variety of assessments designed to respond to student needs, reassessed student discipline policies, supported teachers as professionals, provided adequate resources for safe and well-maintained school environments, addressed key health issues; built on the strengths of language minority students and correctly identified their needs; and expanded access to libraries and the internet, while using technology wisely.

2016-2017 Principal of the Year Nomination Application (Word version)


(Special note: school leaders must be a current member of the Vermont Principals' Association in order to qualify for an award)


                                          Vermont Principals’ Association:  

                                                     Principal of the Year Selection Criteria

Supporting statement - Indicate your reason for nominating this individual. Specifically, please address in your statement how the person has helped the organization by shaping a vision of academic success for all students, creating a climate hospitable for education, cultivating leadership in others, improving instruction and managing people, data and processes to foster school improvement. 

For the past several years, we have solely used the Wallace Foundation criteria for effective school leaders as the criteria that our selection team (VPA Executive Council and previous year’s winners) considered for all of the VPA principal of the year awards. Those criteria are as follows:
We wish to further refine the criteria to also include Schools of Opportunity criteria. We think these criteria will provide specific areas of focus to assist nominators in writing a thorough nomination; it will also assist the selection team in distinguishing one outstanding school leader from another outstanding school leader.


Selection criteria are based on a school’s documented success in implementing practices that distinguish the school as committed to closing opportunity gaps, as set forth in the Closing the Opportunity Gap book. When nominating their school leader, nominators should consider the following issues and questions with regard to schools that close the opportunity gap:
  • Create and Maintain Healthy School Culture

Schools where students face bullying, harassment or discrimination also hamper students’ ability to learn. Has the school taken steps to create a safe, welcoming school environment, which is the starting point for a successful education? To what extent has the school used the resources of the community to support the academic, social and emotional well being of students? How does the school include parents as partners in the development of school culture?

         • Broaden and Enrich School Curriculum

Does the curriculum include a range of subjects, activities and experiences that provide a full, high-quality education? Is it designed with the particular needs of the students in mind? Does it include a rich and diverse array of subjects, including social studies, science, art, music and physical education, available throughout the school year? Does the curriculum include a range of subjects, activities and experiences that provide a full, high-quality education? Is it designed with the particular needs of the students in mind? Does it include a rich and diverse array of subjects, including social studies, science, art, music and physical education, available throughout the school year? 

        • Provide More and Better Learning Time during the School Year and Summer
 Research shows that academic setbacks frequently occur for disadvantaged students who do not have sufficient access to after-school, in-school, and summer enrichment programs enjoyed by more affluent youth. Has the school engaged in initiatives to extend or enrich learning time, which, if they focus on broadening and deepening students’ knowledge and understanding of curricular topics, help to promote school success?

  •   End Disparities in Learning Opportunities Created by Tracking and Ability Grouping

Research also shows that de-tracking reforms help increase student access to challenging curricular materials and high-quality instruction. Has the school taken steps toward universal access to accelerated and supported learning opportunities? Do all students have access to honors, IB and AP courses? Has the school abolished low- track classes with low expectations? To what extent do all groups of students participate in SAT, PSATs, ACTs and college counseling programs?

• Use a Variety of Assessments Designed to Respond to Student Needs

Does the school design and use testing to help teachers understand how well their students are learning and to provide feedback that improves curriculum and teaching? Has the school culture resisted the current push to place standards-based accountability testing toward the center of teaching and learning?

• Reassess Student Discipline Policies

Students cannot access rich learning opportunities when they are excluded from school through suspensions and similar approaches to discipline. While suspensions are sometimes necessary and appropriate, these policies are particularly troubling when they exclude students of color or students receiving free- or reduced-price lunch at rates disproportionate to their involvement in wrongful behaviors. Does the school seek out positive, restorative and non-exclusionary approaches to discipline when appropriate? When students are suspended, are they provided access to appropriate instruction?

 • Support Teachers as Professionals
 Does the school have practices such as mentoring relationships between new teachers and experienced teachers, high- quality teacher induction programs, professional development drawing on school- level expertise, professional learning communities, collaboration among teachers, and relationships between teacher teams and social service support providers that serve students and families? Does the teacher evaluation system focus on identifying and addressing needs? Does professional learning develop a cadre of well-trained teachers who have a deep understanding of students’ diversity and of how inequality affects students and otherwise promotes instruction that is culturally relevant for them? Does the school support efforts to develop healthy and beneficial attitudes and beliefs among administrators, teachers, and school personnel (and students) regarding teaching, learning, and student ability? 

• Provide Adequate Resources for Safe and Well-Maintained School Environments

Has the school taken steps to overcome obstacles concerning safety or environmental issues such as lack of heating or air conditioning (where needed), unsanitary or nonfunctioning bathroom facilities, and/or chronically overcrowded, dirty or dilapidated school buildings?

• Address Key Health Issues

Does the school step up to provide for unaddressed health issues, such as a lack of eye care, dental care and adequate nutrition— factors that impact academic success?

• Build on the Strengths of Language Minority Students and Correctly Identify their Needs

Failure to understand the whole child and the role (or lack of a role) of language can lead to misdiagnoses of children’s strengths and weaknesses. Does the school approach its English learners as emerging bilinguals, building on the language strengths they bring to school? Does the school communicate with language minority students to ensure that student needs beyond language are met?

• Expand Access to Libraries and the Internet, While Using Technology Wisely

Online learning and blended learning are currently being marketed to policymakers and to schools as affordable ways to individualize, personalize and engage students in education. Some of these technologies have some potential, but can the school demonstrate that they are being used wisely, thoughtfully and carefully? Is technology used to supplement good classroom instruction or to supplant it?


One award is given in each category each year. Nominations are welcome from VPA members, colleagues, school board members, superintendents or the general public. The VPA Awards Committee made up of the VPA Executive Council, the previous year's award winners and VPA staff review all nominations and applications.

 VPA  state leadership awards:

  • Robert F. Pierce Award, Vermont Secondary Principal-of-the-Year.

  • Henry Giauque Memorial Award, Vermont Elementary Principal-of-the-Year.

  • Vermont Technical Director-of-the-Year.

 National Awards                                                                                   

  • NASSP Secondary Principal’s Award sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals

  • NASSP and John Winton National Middle Level Principal Award

  • National Distinguished Principal Award sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)
  • NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year

The Awards Process- 

  • Nomination forms must be submitted to the VPA by the deadline given on the nomination application. Complete and submit the nomination form. Nominations may be submitted by the nominee themselves, a nominee’s colleague, or the general public

  • The Selection committee will consist of the VPA Executive Council, previous year award winners and VPA staff

  • The committee reserves the right to seek a second round of nominations if sufficient applications are not submitted in the initial round.                                                   
  • Nominees selected for national awards will be notified by the committee and asked to complete and submit the complete national application form.

  • Questions about the award can be addressed to Ken Page, VPA Executive Director at mailto:kpage@vpaonline.org