CAS Announces 2022 Assistant Principals of the Year

The Connecticut Association of Schools is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Assistant Principal of the Year Awards. Congratulations to these outstanding administrators!

  2022 Elementary School Assistant Principal of the Year

  2022 Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year

  2022 High School Assistant Principal of the Year


Lauren Reid, assistant principal of Bungay School in Seymour, has been named the 2022 CAS Elementary School Assistant Principal of the Year. She was nominated for the award by Mary Sue Feige, the principal of Bungay School, who has worked with Reid since she was appointed assistant principal six years ago. Says Fiege, “Through her everyday actions and her ability to inspire everyone around her, Mrs. Reid is a natural leader who strives to make Bungay school a model of excellence!”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to represent Connecticut as the Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year for 2022,” said Reid when she was informed of her selection. “This award is recognition of the dedication of the staff, hard work of the students, and commitment of the families in the Seymour community to make Bungay School an amazing place where students can learn and grow.”

A conspicuous warmth and cheerfulness permeate the hallways and classrooms of Bungay School, and Reid deserves much of the credit for that. Since arriving at Bungay in 2016, Reid has devoted much of her attention and energy to building a community of learners where all members feel emotionally safe, welcome, supported and connected. She leads by example, always exhibiting the characteristics of the school’s C.A.R.I.N.G. motto – Courteous-Achieving- Responsible-Interested-Neighborly-Growing. She worked with the School Climate Committee and PTA to build a “Kindness Rocks” garden which, when launched three years ago, brought the school and community together to share messages of hope, humanity and goodwill. Each year, the incoming kindergarten students have the opportunity to add to the ever-expanding garden with kindness rocks of their own.

Reid’s focus on educating the whole child and attending to students’ social and emotional needs has also contributed to the positive, nurturing school climate at Bungay. The staff appreciate her efforts to promote social and emotional learning (SEL) skills both in the classroom and at home. Reid works with parents to provide them with the resources and guidance they need to build on schoolwide SEL practices. Says parent and PTA President Christy Chiaramonte, “Mrs. Reid puts her heart and soul into making sure that parents have everything they need to support their child’s growth and development.”

In keeping with her passion for whole child instruction, Reid sought and secured a grant from the Katharine Matthies Foundation which was used to equip ten classrooms with innovative kinesthetic furniture, including standing and pedal desks, stability balls, wobble chairs, and under-desk cycles. Data collected after the equipment installation showed a positive impact on students’ attentiveness, behavior, academic performance and attendance.

Reid is celebrated throughout the district for her strong instructional leadership skills. A former instructional coach, she recognizes the critical importance of quality professional learning for staff which leads directly to increased student achievement. Says second grade teacher Katie Furino, “Lauren has strengthened the professional development programs for staff, carefully considering district goals and applying them at the building and classroom level. She is skilled at providing feedback and guidance that promote growth for both teachers and students. We truly respect her as an educator. Adds Kathleen Reynolds, assistant principal of Seymour Middle School, “Lauren’s impact reaches beyond the walls of Bungay to those in other buildings who look to her for professional guidance and support as one of the strongest instructional leaders within our district.”

Reid, along with fellow elementary assistant principals of the year from throughout the country, will be honored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) at its 2022 Pre-K-8 Principals Conference in Louisville, KY, on July 15-17, 2022.


Dana Perez, assistant principal of Rogers Park Middle School (RPMS), is the 2022 CAS Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year. upon learning that she had been chosen to receive the award, Perez stated, “I am honored to have been selected for this award. It is a reflection of the hard work and dedication the entire RPMS community engages in on a daily basis to provide all of our students an opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”

Assistant principal at RPMS Park for the past four years, Perez is usually the first to arrive and the last to leave the building each day and she juggles her ever-expanding responsibilities with unfailing energy and efficacy. She has been a catalyst for change in teaching, learning, and assessment; and her imprint can be seen in all facets of the school operation. On any given day, she is planning and implementing professional development for her staff; collecting and analyzing data to inform instructional practices; building relationships with students and families; and developing effective strategies to meet the varying social, emotional, and academic needs of a diverse student body.

Danbury Superintendent of Schools Kevin Walston calls Perez “a learner, a leader and an implementer” and praises her ability to leverage knowledge to support students. RPMS Principal Dr. Kristy Zaleta, who nominated Perez for the award, states, “Ms. Perez never stops learning, reflecting, or pushing herself outside of her comfort zone in order to continuously improve.” Adds Brian Betesh, a social studies teacher, “Ms. Perez thinks on a higher plane. She is always pushing us to take risks, think bigger, raise expectations and explore new avenues, always with the goal of helping kids.”

As leader of a culturally diverse school with a large number of multilingual learners, Perez has made educational equity a priority. RPMS faces a constant influx of non-English speaking students, and Perez makes sure that new families feel welcomed, supported and equipped with the resources they need – in the language they speak – to integrate successfully into the school and community. Additionally, she worked with her English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual teachers to raise expectations for English Language Learners (ELLs) and build a program that offers ELL students an opportunity to access grade-level content with appropriate supports.

After looking at school discipline data, which revealed significantly higher suspension rates for Black and special needs students, Perez set about implementing protocols to address these disparities. She immediately formed a School Climate Transformation Group (SCTG) which, through her facilitation, developed building-wide expectations to improve existing discipline policies. Thanks to the work of the SCTG, coupled with Perez’ effective integration of restorative practices, RPMS was able to decrease its number of out-of-school suspensions by 40% in just one year. Notes Perez, “The decrease in student behavior issues has made space for teachers to shift their focus from strictly classroom management to teaching and learning.” States Zaleta, “Dana’s leadership and vision ensure that our school culture is one where students and adults feel safe and are able to learn and interact productively.”

One of Perez’ greatest accomplishments during her tenure as assistant principal is the RPMS Meal Train. Recognizing that food insecurity was impacting a large percentage of RPMS students, Perez helped to raise money and coordinate a meal train to provide meals and snacks to students and their families. According to Zaleta, an initiative that started out as temporary support has now blossomed into a non-profit organization with a mission to provide ongoing access to meals for students and their families. Last year the RPMS Meal Train raised over $22,090 and provided monthly groceries to over 81 families.

Perez has been selected by CAS to represent Connecticut in the National Assistant Principal of the Year Program sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Perez, along with assistant principals from each of the other fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity Associations, will compete for the national honor.


Jamahl Hines, assistant principal of Conard High School (CHS) in West Hartford, has been selected as the 2022 High School Assistant Principal of the Year. Nominated for the award by Roszena Haskins, Director of Equity Advancement for the West Hartford Public Schools, Hines was chosen for his selfless and service-driven leadership and his ability to shift mindsets and practices towards more equitable and inclusive teaching and learning outcomes. Haskins calls him a “warm demander who works tirelessly to ensure that the voices of the most underrepresented and underserved are amplified.”

“After reflecting on the impact of this honor, I realized that it is an award that should be shared among all of the teachers, administrators, parents, and most importantly students with whom I have the honor of working,” says Hines. “Their hard work, commitment to learning, and passion for providing all students with the opportunity to achieve greatness inspire me daily. Assistant Principal of the Year represents my promise to serve them and all families to the best of my ability and I sincerely appreciate this opportunity.”

Hines has served as assistant principal at Conard for the past nine years, and he remains tireless in his efforts to lead students on a path to self-discovery. “All students come with unique experiences, home lives, and backgrounds. It is my job to understand how those factors, along with any other personal challenges, might contribute to blocking our students’ paths to success,” states Hines. Relationship-building is at the core of his success. His close ties to his students allow him to better understand, assess and address their individuals needs and interests. Conard parent Christina Martinez states, “He is the heartbeat of the school. He knows everyone’s story.” Adds Conard’s principal, Julio Duarte,“I have never seen anyone connect with kids with the ease that Mr. Hines does.”

While academic gains are important to Hines, equally important are his students’ social and emotional competence and well-being. He leads the implementation of Conard’s School Climate and Culture improvement plan and applies himself each day to helping all members of the Conard community feel safe, supported, and valued. He achieves this by galvanizing his students to celebrate one another’s culture, identity and uniqueness. Says Haskins, “Mr. Hines models empathy and resilience. He has been instrumental in leading Conard’s SEL and Social Justice work so that students can develop a positive self concept, manage emotions, build relationships and contribute to building an inclusive and socially just community and global society.” Jocelyn Tamborello-Noble, World Language Supervisor for West Hartford, adds, “Mr. Hines coaches staff on issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, fighting each day to create spaces for ALL children to be valued, seen, and heard.”

While Hines has a natural ability to connect with all students, he has a special gift for motivating and empowering students of color. Drawing on his personal experiences growing up as the only black student in an otherwise all-white school, Hines strives each day to be a positive role model for black and brown students and to ensure that no child feels alone or isolated. He approaches all of his various responsibilities using a focused equity lens and works both formally and informally to nurture the leadership skills of young people of color. Says recent Conard graduate Henley Solomon, “Mr. Hines was the only black male educator I ever had. He changed the culture at Conard, opening up ground for students of color, giving us license to exhale.”

Hines has been an influential change agent within his school community, and his reach has extended far beyond the Conard campus. His proudest accomplishment is the creation of Future Educators of Diversity (FEoD), which began as a pilot program in West Hartford and has since expanded to other school districts. Designed to bring greater diversity to our state’s teaching force, FEoD was born of Hines’ desire to both address the lack of minority representation in education and to cultivate social justice advocates and leaders in the local and global communities. The FEoD’s success has drawn widespread attention, prompting other districts in Connecticut as well as around the nation to express interest in replicating the program. “FEoD chapters are popping up all over our state and country,” says Hines. “Through the guidance of inspired adults, future leaders are being born.”


Assistant Principal of the Year Award Program Background and Procedures
In this new era of shared leadership, the assistant principal’s role has become multi-dimensional. No longer does the assistant principal deal exclusively with student discipline and attendance. Today’s assistant principal is often responsible for curriculum and instruction, staff evaluation, community partnerships, public relations, technology integration, 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, and High School Assistant Principal of the Year. Nominees must submit a written application which is evaluated by a selection committee consisting of active and retired principals and assistant principals. Site visits are conducted at the schools of the two highest rated candidates at each level (elementary, middle and high). Winners are then chosen based upon the outcome of the site visit as well as the quality of the written application. The three individuals selected for recognition are honored by CAS at an awards dinner in the fall. Additionally, the elementary school winner and either the middle school or high school winner, but not both, are recognized at the national level by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, respectively (NASSP).