Newport Daily News - Saturday, April 25, 2015 - ‘He’s one of a kind’ Thompson’s Jaime Crowley is named statewide Middle School Principal of Year

‘He’s one of a kind’ Thompson’s Jaime Crowley is named statewide Middle School Principal of Year

April 25, 2015 - NEWPORT — Thompson Middle School Principal Jaime Crowley on Friday was named the statewide 2015 Middle School Principal of the Year by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals.

School Superintendent Colleen Burns Jermain was notified Friday that a representative of the principals’ association would be coming to Thompson Middle School in the coming week to officially notify the community.

“I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to receive this award,” said Jermain, who nominated Crowley. “He has done so much for the school and our community. I don’t think there is anyone who could think otherwise.”

The association’s Principal of the Year program annually recognizes “outstanding middle level and high school principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students as well asdemonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession,” according to the organization’s website.

Crowley was appointed principal at Thompson in June 2011. Previously, he had been the assistant principal and director of guidance at Mount Hope High School in Bristol. When school started in September 2011, he made it a practice to visit every classroom in the middle school at least once a day and has continued that practice.

“He changed the culture and climate of the school,” Jermain said. “We have very few incidents at the school. He exemplifies everything you could want in a principal. He lives and breathes that school. He’s one of a kind.” During the annual meeting of the Newport Partnership for Families on Friday, school data was presented. It was striking that 32 percent of students at Rogers High School had 10 or more unexcused absences during the current school year, and 13 percent of students at the Pell Elementary School, but only 8 percent of students at Thompson Middle School had unexcused absences.

Besides reduced absenteeism under Crowley’s leadership, student achievement has been bolstered through his work with the teachers and on the curriculum, Jermain said.

During the evaluation process of nominees statewide by the principals’ association, students, teachers, school admin-istrators, members of school committees and members of the communities in which they serve were interviewed, Jermain said.

“It’s a rigorous process,” she said.

Jermain believes the RIASP evaluators heard nothing but praise for Crowley when they were in Newport.

“That is great news; I’m over the moon,” said School Committee Chairwoman Jo Eva Gaines when she heard about Crowley’s principal-of-the-year selection. 

Jaime Crowley was appointed principal at Thompson Middle School in Newport in 2011. Daily News file photo 

 ‘He exemplifies everything you could want in a principal. He lives and breathes that school.’ Colleen Burns Jermain Newport school superintendent

“He so deserves it,” she said. “We’re so lucky to have him.” 

Gaines said she was part of a group of people that included her, School Committee members Sandra Flowers and Kathleen Silvia who were interviewed by the RIASP “deciders” last week, besides others in other groups. 

“I told them they did not have to go to any more interviews,” Gaines said. “I said, ‘You have your candidate right here.’” Crowley was not available for comment before press time. 

He has received top state awards before. He was the winner of the 2009 Milken Educator Award for Rhode Island, selected by the national Milken Family Foundation, and he was the 2010 Vice Principal of the Year, also selected by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals. 

When Thompson Middle School students met their new principal in September 2011, he was a familiar face to many of them — just in another context. They knew him as president of the Fifth Ward Little League for the previous three years. While there were two leagues in Newport at that time, all the teams played each other, so Crowley was well known around the city. The leagues have since merged. 

Crowley, 44, and his wife, Melissa, have four children who attend Newport public schools. He has been a Newport resident since 1996 and has said he is happy his career brought him to the Newport schools. 

“I’m very excited,” he said after his appointment as Thompson principal. “I’ve never worked in a middle school, so there is a feeling of newness about the opportunity. I’m energized to do a lot of things there.” 

He has pointed out that his life started out in Newport. He was born at Newport Hospital and lived in the old Fifth Ward neighborhood until his parents, Michael and Judith Crowley, moved the family to Middletown. Both of his parents were teachers. 

Crowley graduated from Middletown High School in 1987 and then graduated magna cum laude from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in French in 1991. He earned a master’s degree in French language and culture from Boston College in 1996. He discovered he loved teaching while he was a teaching assistant in the master’s program. 

“That’s when I knew what I wanted to do,” he said in an earlier interview. “I was hooked.” 

Crowley obtained his teaching certification at the University of Rhode Island and his school administrator licensure from Boston University in 2006. He taught French at Mount Hope — a regional high school for Bristol and Warren students — when he arrived at the school in 1997. He later served as chairman of the French Department and became assistant principal in 2007. 

At Mount Hope High School, Crowley started an extended school day support program, allowing students to work after class and to avoid having to make up grades in summer school. He also pushed for the school day to start later, citing scientific studies showing students do better when they are well rested when they arrive. 

During his teaching career, he was the Mount Hope High School Teacher of the Year, the Bristol-Warren Regional School District Teacher of the Year and the National Honor Society Teacher of the Year. In 2006, he also was an adjunct faculty member and instructor of French at Salve Regina University. 

As a teacher, he became involved in developing curriculum, school improvement methods and professional development, and did work for the state Department of Education. There is a long list of presentations he has made and workshops he has conducted at various gatherings and conventions of educators over the years. 

“I could see I was heading into administration,” Crowley has said. “I found that I like to lead things.” 

Thompson Middle School Principal Jaime Crowley was named the state’s 2015 Middle School Principal of the Year. Daily News file photo