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Colorado Principal Named National Principal of the Year

A Colorado middle school principal has been chosen as the 2017 National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Thomas Dodd has been principal of Lesher Middle School in the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colo., for the past 11 years.

The NASSP said it was impressed with Dodd's focus on equity and his success in changing the school climate at Lesher.

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The association highlighted Dodd's "Anchor Down" school motto, which emphasizes the role of teachers as stabilizing forces in the school and as advocates for all students.

"Tom Dodd believes deeply that student equity is the true path to schoolwide success, and he lives that belief in his priorities and decisions," JoAnn Bartoletti, NASSP's executive director said. "His passion for personalizing the school and meeting the needs of each student—a key element of the Professional Standards for School Administrators 2015—marks his leadership throughout his tenure at Lesher, and NASSP is proud to recognize him as a model for school leaders."

Dodd also expanded the rigorous International Baccalaureate program to include the entire school, the organization said. Under his leadership, the school, of about 750 students, landed on the MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools list in 2012. The joint program by the MetLife Foundation and the NASSP honors high-achieving middle schools that serve large numbers of students in poverty.

Lesher has also appeared on the National Schools to Watch list annually since 2012, the NASSP said. The program by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform highlights high-performing middle schools.

Dodd's superintendent, Sandra Smyser, said the district was thankful to have him as one of its principals.  

"Tom's upbeat, engaging leadership style resonates with staff and students alike," Smyser said. "He has positively impacted thousands of lives during his time at Lesher."

The other finalists were Melissa Hensley, principal of Central High School in Woodstock, Va., and Stephanie Johnson, principal of Maynard H. Jackson High School in Atlanta, Ga.

As the winner, Dodd will enroll in the McKinsey Management Program for School Leaders. (We wrote about this joint program between the NASSP and McKinsey & Co. earlier this year.) He will also represent the NASSP at education policy discussions.  

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