COURT HOUSE - Chris Paskalides, principal at Middle Township Elementary No. 1, was recently named Visionary Principal of the Year, Elementary Level, 2020 by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) during the group’s virtual conference.
According to a release, the prestigious award recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of school leaders throughout New Jersey. Paskalides was honored – along with four other visionary award winners – for strong leadership skills, commitment to scholastic improvement, and dedicated staff.
“I’m honored and humbled,” stated Paskalides. “Most of all, I’m proud that Elementary No. 1 and our district (Middle Township) received recognition and thankful that I can share this with my incredible staff. Leaders are only as good as the people they lead, and my staff is second to none.”
“Chris’ award is in recognition of his strong leadership skills and dedicated staff,” stated Superintendent David Salvo, Ed.D. “The entire educational community congratulates Chris Paskalides for this tremendous honor.”
Along with the plaque, Paskalides will receive $1,000, and Elementary No. 1 will receive a $7,000 award, which will be used to enhance the school’s multicultural literature program – both in shared and guided reading.
“We plan to invest the award in our multicultural program,” stated Paskalides. “Diversity is our strength, and we want to ensure our resources reflect our student population.”
Paskalides began working in the Middle Township School District in 1999. He started as a teacher, in the middle schoo, before moving up to assistant principal. He accepted the principal role at Elementary No. 1, in 2012.
Since then, Paskalides has led his school through necessary changes – foundational, structural, and procedural – as part of the district’s long-term vision.
During the multi-phase project, issues of outdated windows, HVAC, and drainage were addressed at Elementary No. 1, construction of a new preschool facility was completed, and school procedures were upgraded. These projects were made possible thanks to an $11.3 million referendum passed in 2016.
One of Paskalides’ most significant accomplishments is the recent expansion from half-day to full-day preschool – a development that enhances early childhood education in the district.
With the administration’s approval, Paskalides led the efforts in applying for the New Jersey Preschool Expansion grant. As part of the plan, all seven of the new classrooms in the preschool facility would be used, with three of them converted to meet the Division of Early Childhood Education’s (DECE) compliance regulations.
The grant was approved, in September 2019, and the full-day program began days later and continues to expand. Four modular classrooms will be added onsite to accommodate the increase in students. That project should be completed by December 2020.
Acknowledgment for Paskalides also came from the national level. He was recognized as New Jersey’s 2020 National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). The national program honors outstanding elementary and middle-level principals in both public and private schools who ensure that children acquire a solid foundation for lifelong learning and achievement.