School Talk

A Big Award for A Principal From the Smallest State

The National Principal of the Year for 2015 is Alan Tenreiro and he proudly hails from our little state of Rhode Island. When you live in a state as small as ours, big honors feel even bigger and that’s what many are experiencing today with the announcement that a local school leader has been selected for this award because he is such an “outstanding building level leader.”

There was no scarcity of VIPs today at the celebration. Governor Raimondo, Lt. Governor McKee, Senator Reed, Congressman Cicilline, and our new state education commissioner, Ken Wagner, were all on hand along with local school leaders, elected officials and the honoree’s family to surprise him with the news. To watch the video of the surprise and celebration click here.

Alan Tenreiro is the Principal of Cumberland High School and in his four short years, he has been the driver behind a meaningful transformation in school culture, student achievement, and expectations for both students and staff. He’s a bold leader who keeps moving forward with what he believes to be right for kids and best for learning, even when the noise around the decision gets loud. Though he lauds all of the improving metrics, he is most proud of the kindnesses he sees around the building, those moments of kids “doing the right thing.”

He has doubled the number of AP classes offered to students and expanded STEM offerings to include pre-engineering, robotics, and a biotechnology pathway. Under his gentle yet fierce leadership, the school has seen its graduation rate rise and its academic achievement improve.

On a broader scale, Mr. Tenreiro has been unapologetic about his support for the Common Cores State Standards. Additionally and perhaps even more controversially at the local level, Tenreiro has thrown his full support behind standards based grading, a system of grading designed to measure what a student knows and is able to do. He rejects the common practice of including attendance, behavior, and participation in academic grades and instead, believes that academic grades should only measure mastery of the subject matter. He doesn’t discount the importance of learner qualities and habits but asserts that those need to be measured and reported separately.

Tenreiro is a leader who embodies the now trite but also crucial growth mindset; he wants to always be learning and getting better and he wants others to do the same. He is the co-creator of #edchatri, a weekly twitter chat that provides a space for any and all Rhode Island educators (and any others interested in joining in) to think deeply about a specific topic and share ideas, resources, and even support.

And anecdotally, the word on the street has completely changed since Tenreiro’s arrival. What was once an almost universally negative narrative about the high school has quickly become one about a new beginning with a new leadership team, robust course offerings, and students themselves choosing to attend over private schools where they’d been accepted.

Today, from the podium, while look out at his students, he said the following: “There’s really nothing else I’d rather do than be your high school principal.” I’m quite sure the feeling is mutual and that that there’s no one that the school community would rather have for their high school principal than him.

Bravo Mr. Tenreiro. May you continue to be unwavering in your support for students and may the rest of us continue to learn from your bold ideas and positive spirit.

You have made Little Rhody proud.

What do you think?

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