Christopher Palmieri, assistant principal of DePaolo Middle School, was selected as the 2013 CAS Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year. DePaolo Principal Frank Pepe, who nominated Palmieri for the award, describes Palmieri as “a rarity of both knowledge and leadership who gives 100% all the time.”
Palmieri, now in his eighth year as assistant principal at DePaolo, was chosen by the selection committee for his insistence on high standards and his uncompromising dedication to his students and school community.
“Chris is extremely deserving of this award due to his commitment to maintaining a school climate that continuously fosters high expectations for students and teachers, but, most importantly, due to his devotion to every student in our school,” said Social Studies teacher Debra Moreau.
During his tenure at DePaolo, Palmieri has been the driving force behind a number of successful initiatives which have improved the academic achievement of his students while at the same time enhancing their social and emotional welfare. He spearheaded a mentoring program which provides an additional support network for at-risk kids; he established a textbook center at the Southington Public Library so that students who forget to bring home their books have access to them after school hours; he created a combined drama program which involves students from both Southington middle schools, allowing them to form bonds before they attend high school together; and, he established DePaolo’s “Home-work Hotline” which he records daily for each of his school’s nine academic teams allowing parents and students to check school assignments for accuracy from home.
“I am very humbled and honored by this recognition,” said Palmieri when he learned of his selection. “I would like to thank the entire staff at DePaolo Middle School. I believe this award is reflective of all of our work at DePaolo as well as in Southington. I love working with my middle school students and am privileged to work with such a dedicated and talented staff.”
The focus of Palmieri’s efforts has been as much on producing well-rounded, responsible and caring citizens as on increased academic achievement. Selfless and civic-minded, Palmieri has established several afterschool clubs and activities that promote increased student awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of the community and of one another. He oversees the DePaolo Leadership Pro-gram, the success of which he considers to be one of the proudest accomplishments of his educational career. The program, which involves more than half of the student body, teaches his students the values of community service, citizenship, responsibility and respect for others. He also worked with the other middle school in town to establish a Unified Sports Program which pairs individuals with and without intellectual disabilities on sports teams for athletic training and skill building. Palmieri also serves his district in his role as the secondary schools Safe School Climate Coordinator and coordinator of the Teacher of the Year Committee.
Says Pam Aldi, assistant principal at nearby John F. Kennedy Middle School, “Through his own efforts and actions, Chris encourages citizenship and volunteerism; he works hard to model a serious, genuine commitment to others.”
Palmieri’s efforts and influence extend far beyond the walls of DePaolo. A ubiquitous presence in the larger Southington community, he is actively involved in a number of townwide groups and organizations. Through his close relationship with the Southington Police Department, the Calendar House Senior Center, Zion Lutheran Church, Southington Community Services, and the Southington Arts Council, he has collaborated on a number of programs that foster positive youth development and that have a direct, affirmative impact on his middle school students and their families. His position as a member of the Southington Town Council enables him to have professional relationships with many community stakeholders and to partner with them for the benefit of his students.
Southington Superintendent Dr. Joseph Erardi, Jr. calls him a “one-of-a-kind leader” and an “icon in our schools and community.”
Palmieri received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree and administrative certificate from Sacred Heart University (CT). He began his career in education in 1997 as a teacher at Southington’s John F. Kennedy Middle School, becoming a team leader in 2001 and serving as the district Headstart and ESY program director during the summers of 2003-2005. In 2005, he was appointed assistant principal of DePaolo, the position he now holds.
Palmieri was recognized by the Southington Board of Education at their January 10 board meeting with recognitions before the meeting began.