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Colorado's Tom Dodd Named National Principal of the Year

Fort Collins, Colo. — Dr. Thomas J. Dodd, of Lesher Middle School in the Poudre School District, Fort Collins, has been named the 2017 National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). The award was announced today at a surprise assembly at his school attended by the school community, local dignitaries, and elected officials. The announcement came as part of NASSP’s celebration of National Principals Month.

During his 12-year tenure as Lesher principal, Dodd has led the reinvention of the school's climate captured by the "Anchor Down" motto and anchor pins that all teachers wear to symbolized their firm, stable role as advocates for each child in the school. Under Dodd's leadership, the school eliminated de facto academic tracking by opening the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP) from a select few to the whole school. Dodd is a regular presenter at state and national conferences, and has led his school to be named a MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School in 2012 and a National School to Watch every year since 2014 by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform.

Dodd holds a bachelor's degree in history and secondary education from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, two master's degrees in physical education and in social studies education from Adams State University in Alamosa, CO, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Penn State.

"Tom Dodd believes deeply that student equity is the true path to schoolwide success, and he lives that belief in his priorities and decisions," said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. "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."

"We are grateful to have such an exceptional person in leadership in our district,” Poudre Schools Superintendent Dr. Sandra Smyser said. “Tom’s upbeat, engaging leadership style resonates with staff and students alike. He has positively impacted thousands of lives during his time at Lesher.”

The search for the 2017 national principal of the year started in early 2016 as each state principals association selected its state principals of the year. From this pool of state winners, a panel of judges selected three finalists. A separate panel then interviewed and rigorously reviewed the finalists’ applications to select the national winner. As the National Principal of the Year, Dodd will represent the principalship in high-level education policy discussions and will be enrolled in the highly regarded McKinsey Management Program for School Leaders.

Dodd is the second Colorado principal to be named National Principal of the Year, following Jay Engeln who received the honor in 2000 as principal of Palmer High School in Colorado Springs. Frank DeAngelis of Columbine High School was named a finalist for the award in 2014.

For more information about the NASSP Principal of the Year program, please visit www.nassp.org/poy.

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