Paul Newton, 2007 High School Principal of the Year

Paul Newton, principal of Enrico Fermi High School in Enfield, is the 2007 High School Principal of the Year. A 28-year veteran educator, Paul was nominated for the award by Robert Hale, Jr., principal of Westbook High School, who praises Paul's "vision and commitment to the well-being of students not only at EFHS, but throughout the state and beyond."

Upon learning of his award, Paul remarked, "This award is truly humbling. I see it as validation to all of the members of our Enrico Fermi High School family for the work that we have accomplished together. Everyone at Enrico Fermi High School and the Enfield Public Schools deserve a part of this award. Without the support of the staff, students, and parents alike, we could not have accomplished all of the wonderful things that we have over the past 7 years. We have worked together to create a school environment that is positive, accepting, and welcoming to all."

Enfield Superintendent John Gallacher credits Paul with transforming Fermi into a cohesive school community which is responsive to the educational needs of all of its students. According to Gallacher, Paul has succeeded in raising the academic achievement of his students while at the same time enhancing the social and cultural climate of the school. "Upon assuming the position of principal of EFHS in 2000, Mr. Newton rekindled the spirit of the school community,...moving the school forward as a family, creating a positive student climate and a sense of belonging," says Gallacher.

Visitors to EFHS are immediately struck by the atmosphere of openness, caring, mutual trust and respect that Paul has fostered there. Highly visible and engaged, Paul can be found outside the building personally greeting students and visitors each morning, in the hallway giving "high-fives" to kids who share their good news with him, or on the sidelines at a sports event cheering on EFHS athletes. Mark Dube, a physical education and health teacher at EFHS and the district's teacher of the year in 2005, states that one of Paul's greatest strengths is his "highly contagious positive attitude." He is respected by his staff and students for his ability to humanize the school environment and to create an aura of goodwill among all those with whom he comes in contact. "Paul truly has a heart to serve others," says Dube. Adds Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Mary Henderson, "There is nothing that Paul would not do to help a student, parent, colleague or the district."

A tireless and passionate leader, Paul has been the driving force behind a number of successful initiatives aimed at personalizing the school environment. Under his leadership, EFHS staff have been introduced to the Capturing Kids Hearts program which builds positive, affirming relationships between teachers and students. He also initiated the Teen Leadership course which provides students with skills and training in the areas of personal responsibility, principle-based decision-making, leadership, emotional intelligence and public speaking.

Dr. Henderson lauds Paul's collaborative approach to educational reform which involves empowering his staff to be partners in the decision-making process and working side-by-side with them to develop and implement a vision for improved educational opportunities. "Mr. Newton has consistently demonstrated excellence as a collaborative instructional leader with an unequivocal and unwavering focus on the learning and well-being of students," says Dr. Henderson.

Despite the myriad demands of the principalship, Paul still manages to coach his school's girls' lacrosse team and he gives generously of his time and considerable talents to numerous educational, professional and community associations. A respected leader in public education in Connecticut, Paul has been an active member of CAS and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) since 1993. He currently serves as chair of the CIAC Eligibility Committee and the CIAC Girls' Outdoor Track Committee and is a prominent member of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Board of Control, the CIAC Wrestling Committee and the CAS High School Professional Studies Committee.