CAS Announces Outstanding First-Year Principal for 2024

The Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) is proud to announce that James Crouch, Principal of Nathan Hale Middle School, has been awarded the prestigious William Cieslukowski Outstanding First Year Principal Award. This honor recognizes exceptional leadership and dedication in a first-year principal.

James Crouch brings over twenty-six years of experience in education, having served in various roles including classroom teacher, assistant principal, and interim principal. He joined Norwalk Public Schools in 2010, where his journey began at Roton Middle School as an assistant principal and continued at Brookside Elementary and Nathan Hale Middle School in various leadership capacities.

In his first year as Principal at Nathan Hale Middle School, Mr. Crouch has spearheaded numerous initiatives to support a diverse student body. He has established critical partnerships with agencies such as the Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Center and the LINC program, which provide essential social work services. Additionally, he revived the School-Based Health Center to ensure students have access to mental health resources.

Nathan Hale Middle School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) program candidate school, and under Mr. Crouch’s leadership, it has made strides in developing IB-aligned curricula and enhancing communication with all stakeholders. A notable initiative is the Student Leadership Team, which James created to build student leadership skills. This team has initiated community service projects, including a partnership with South Norwalk Elementary School to establish a food and clothing pantry.

Mr. Crouch’s focus on school climate has led to significant improvements. His vision of having staff and students rediscover their passion for learning and teaching has resulted in the highest mid-year test scores across the district’s middle schools. His dedication to student engagement and the implementation of the FRESH (Future-Ready Education with Social-Emotional Healing) program has decreased chronic absenteeism and suspensions, fostering a positive and inclusive school environment.

Furthermore, James Crouch’s contributions extend beyond his school. He is a published author and a college professor at Western Connecticut State University, where he mentors aspiring teachers. His co-authored textbook on special education is set to be used in five education programs starting in the Fall of 2024, reflecting his commitment to educational advancement.

James Crouch’s outstanding leadership, innovative programs, and dedication to student and staff development make him a deserving recipient of the William Cieslukowski Outstanding First-Year Principal Award. His work continues to inspire and impact the community, setting a high standard for educational excellence.

When told he was the recipient of the award, Mr. Crouch said,”Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I feel honored to be a part of such a supportive community like Norwalk. This award is well deserved, not because of me, but because of the 540 students I serve and the 88 staff members I lead. They are the real stars, and I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them every day.”

For more information about the William Cieslukowski Outstanding First Year Principal Award, please contact Tiffany Caouette at TCaouetteatcasciacdotorg.