Position: Principal School: Williamstown Elementary School
School District: Orange North Supervisory Union
City, State: Williamstown, Vermont
About the Nominee: Jamie Kinnarney was nominated by Sarah Launderville, the parent of several students.
Mr. Kinnarney is what every mom and dad dreams the principal of their child’s school will be: kind, smart, empathetic, energetic and understanding. He looks for opportunities that will benefit and challenge the students, staff and community. He has transformed the Williamstown Elementary School (WES) community in his four years as principal. One can see it in everything from the Blue Devil students' pride to their improving test scores.
As a principal, he is very responsive. He has given parents of the WES community the opportunity to be fully engaged in the school's culture. He is humble and probably does not consider himself as a LifeChanger, but anyone in the community will tell you, he is.
Mr. Kinnarney's nominator, Sarah Launderville, had her first conversation with him as she was signing up her twin daughters for Kindergarten and her son headed into Preschool. She had questions about some of the changes that he was implementing at WES. She listened to his vision of the school and felt more at ease about the changes. His transparency and dialogue allows for parents to be more engaged in their children's lives at school.
Over the years, Mr. Kinnarney has continued this transparency by reporting on test scores, putting out a monthly newsletter and working hand in hand with the PTA to offer monthly community nights for parents and a Community Resource Fair at the first open house of the school year annually.
Some accomplishments his leadership has brought to the school include: -WES being named a Vermont Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (VTPBiS) “Exemplar School.” VTPBiS is a framework for preventing and responding to problem behavior within a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). -Implementing mindfulness approaches in the classroom -Leadership of engaging the 5th Grade Capstone Project which engages 5th graders in their community. -Monthly "Cafeteria Throw Down" competitions between Mr. Kinnarney and former WES Chef Anne Finegan. The students get to try a dish and vote on whose they like better. These competitions have been featured on WCAX, and the winner receives the "Golden Spoon" for the month. -Rising test scores and specific interventions for students to excel -After-school and summer programming such as an “academic booster camp” -A before-school athletics/activities program
He has embraced social media as a form of reaching out to the community about activities at WES. As a parent who works outside the home, Ms. Launderville is able to check out what is happening at school and stay connected to her children during the day. Her mother, who lives far away from the rest of the family, is also able to access this information and is able to stay connected to her grandchildren. She always says that she is impressed with how engaged Mr. Kinnarney is with the students.
Finally, it is important to highlight that students and families in the Williamstown community have faced their share of challenges. These challenges include experiencing trauma at an early age and financial difficulties at home. Mr. Kinnarney understands how these issues effect learning, retaining information and participation. He is a leader in the effort to make WES more accessible to all by holding events that allow for diverse engagement in the community. He understands and has worked to create policies, procedures and activities that are more inclusive and understanding of the needs of all community members.
Mr. Kinnarney alone has not made all of this happen; the entire WES team makes all of these amazing things possible, and it is an incredible team. His ability to make things happen, however, by encouraging the leadership and participation skills of those around him is one of the many qualities of a LifeChanger that he possesses
The children at WES learn to have pride in their school and community through the “blue devil way” of being respectful, responsible and safe learners. Through Mr. Kinnarney’s leadership, students at WES are a shining example that give members of the community, including Ms. Launderville, pride to see what they are able to accomplish now and excitement to see what they accomplish in the future.