Ponaganset's Marcotte is 2014 Middle School Principal of the Year

Ponaganset's Marcotte is 2014 Middle School Principal of the Year

GLOCESTER - Patricia Marcotte, principal of Ponaganset Middle School, has been named the 2014 Middle School Principal of the Year in Rhode Island.

Marcotte, 49, a Providence resident, told The Valley Breeze & Observer that she is "overwhelmed" by the honor and she immediately gave credit to others. "I have a great staff and a great community to work in," she said.

She has worked for the Foster-Glocester Regional School District since 1989, teaching English to 8th-graders before becoming principal in the 2004-05 school year. Some 470 students attend the middle school in Grades 6, 7 and 8.

Although the Rhode Island Association of School Principals usually does not reveal who nominated a person for this honor, Supt. Michael Barnes admitted that he was the one who nominated Marcotte.

"We taught together years ago," he said. "She is an incredibly hard-working and dedicated administrator who always keeps the needs of her students, staff and teachers in the forefront of her decision-making."

Indeed, asked what advice she would give to new educators, Marcotte said it is important to remember that "we are dealing with children, a treasured commodity. These are people's children and we have to do what is best for them."

Marcotte and Barnes said standardized test scores have risen during her tenure as principal. The principals' association mentioned "statistically significant gains in student achievement." She has led teachers to adopt practices and programs developed nationally and "responded to the requirements of the state while maintaining a culture of caring and compassion," Barnes said.

In a letter to the staff about Marcotte, Barnes noted that "with all the changes occurring in education, it is nice to go into the middle school and see students, teachers and staff smiling, joking, laughing, learning and teaching ... We are lucky to have Pat as part of the Ponaganset family."

News of the honor came at a school-wide assembly at the middle school last month when Patricia A. Hines, executive director of RIASP, made the surprise announcement. "Everyone broke out in applause," Barnes related, and Marcotte was presented with a bouquet of fresh flowers to mark the occasion.

The principals' association wrote glowingly of Marcotte in a page and one-half news release. Her school is the first in the state, RIASP said, to adopt the Positive Behaviorial Interventions and Support program, a comprehensive system of discipline that supports appropriate student behavior rather than punishment-based strategies.

"Teachers note that they are motivated by Ms. Marcotte's depth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and superior work ethic.

"They believe she has worked diligently to create a school climate in which faculty, students and parents flourish, that Ms. Marcotte relates extraordinarily well with students, teachers and staff, and treats everyone in a kind, caring and supportive manner," the association said.

Teachers "feel assured that Ms. Marcotte not only listens to them, but makes their voices heard and empowers them to take on leadership roles themselves."

The state principals' organization will honor Marcotte at an awards ceremony May 28, while the national group, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, will honor all state winners at an event in the fall in Washington, D.C.

Teachers and other members of the middle school staff wrote letters in support of Marcotte, and she was nominated for the same honor a year ago by a middle school teacher.

"She is awesome," said a woman who answered the phone at Ponaganset Middle School but declined to reveal her name. "I've worked for many administrators and she tops them all. She is very considerate of other people's feelings and she knows education. She is very in-tune, very professional, well liked and very deserving of this honor."