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    Richard Vespucci
    Jon Zlock


For Release: August 6, 2003

State Board of Education Recognizes Principals of the Year

Commissioner of Education William L. Librera today introduced to the State Board of Education, the nine public school principals from across New Jersey who were selected for honor in this year’s Principal of the Year Program. Now in its third year, the program annually recognizes exemplary school leadership.

"Today we are publicly recognizing the latest recipients of honor in the New Jersey Principals of the Year Program: Rewarding Visionary Leadership," Commissioner Librera said. "This is the third group to be honored for successfully providing high quality learning opportunities for their students. We believe that the quality of a child’s education is determined primarily by the principal, who is the school’s educational leader. Achievement of educational excellence occurs when the school principal establishes high expectations for student learning and teacher performance and is willing to take risks to accomplish these ends."

"The principals we recognize this year have demonstrated their commitment to the task of education in their communities through use of their creativity, determination, and leadership skills," Dr. Librera said. "They have distinguished themselves as visionary leaders during their lengthy school careers. I commend them for their success and encourage local school leaders to look to their accomplishments as examples of distinction."

The 2003 Principals of the Year are: Elaine Davis, Montclair High School, Montclair School District; Ana Maria Mascenik, Wilentz Elementary School, Perth Amboy School District; Dennis McDonald, Demarest Middle School, Demarest School District; Timothy O’Halloran, Somerville High School, Somerville School District; Frank Palatucci, Highland High School, Black Horse Pike Regional School District; LaVerne Rose, Shady Lane Elementary School, Deptford Township School District; Barbara Sargent, Village Elementary School, Montgomery School District; John Scott, McGaheran Elementary School, Clinton Township School District; and Kevin West, Chancellor Avenue Elementary School, Irvington School District.

The New Jersey Principals of the Year Program: Rewarding Visionary Leadership, is a partnership of the Department of Education with the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the Business Coalition for Educational Excellence, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Washington Mutual.

Each principal selected will receive two awards: a monetary award of up to $10,000 financed by the Dodge Foundation, Washington Mutual, and Title I that may be applied to school-based improvements and professional development opportunities; and a $500 stipend from the Business Coalition for Educational Excellence.

In return for accepting the honor and stipends, the principals will participate in several service options during their time as Principal of the Year. For example, they may decide to serve as adjunct professors or distinguished lecturers at colleges or universities, advise the Department of Education on educational policy issues, conduct research at the local or state level, sponsor an open-house at their own school where visitors learn about innovative school practices, or a variety of other meaningful activities.

Attached above is a list of principals honored today and their bios.