Students, families, school staff and others celebrated on Wednesday, Oct. 28, turning out to congratulate Dayton Consolidated School Principal Kimberly Sampietro for being named Maine’s National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Tammy Wells Photo

DAYTON – There were cards, flowers, posters, and undoubtedly lots of smiles under all the face masks of the students at Dayton Consolidated School,  who gathered to congratulate their principal, Kimberly Sampietro, for being recognized as a Maine principal of the year.

Sampietro was named a National Distinguished Principal, representing the state of Maine, by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, earlier this year. With COVID-19 hitting Maine hard this spring, local celebrations were canceled — and the national awards event was postponed and then became a virtual event held earlier in October.

These Dayton Consolidated School students have no doubt – their principal, Kimberly Sampietro, is the best. And others think so too – Sampietro was recently named a National Distinguished Principal for Maine by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Tammy Wells Photo

At Dayton Consolidated School on Wednesday, Oct. 28, outside in the fall air — peppered with a little drizzle — with masks in place, youngsters cheered when their principal arrived in a Goodwin’s Mills Fire Department engine, for a surprise parade of students to celebrate her award. Apparently, the event was truly a surprise. Sampietro said she was invited to ride the fire truck for some other reason — and then, as it maneuvered the roundabout with sirens blaring, she saw the people outside the school building, and a sign declaring her Principal of the Year, and all became clear.

Sampietro, who was a middle school teacher and department head at a Brunswick Middle School for 12 years, applied for the job as principal at Dayton seven years ago – and got it.  The school serves pupils from Pre-kindergarten through Grade 5 — about 117 in all.

In a small ceremony after each class paraded past Sampietro, giving her their cards and well wishes, Jeremy Ray, Superintendent of Schools of  both Dayton and Biddeford spoke of her attributes. He described Sampietro as a hard worker, an individual who is student-centered and focused; a strong advocate for her school; delivers her point of view and expresses the school’s needs well; and is a self-starter who cares about Dayton.

“She’s not content to be good, she wants to be great,” said Ray during the ceremony.

“She is a true leader,” said teacher Kristina Patterson, representing school staff. “What an outstanding school leader we have.”

For her part, Sampietro praised the school, students, their families, faculty — and the town of Dayton.

“This is such an amazing community,” she said. “And the kids here are so much fun.”

Dayton Consolidated School Principal Kimberly Sampietro arrived at a ceremony recognizing her achievement as a National Distinguished Principal for Maine in a Goodwin’s Mills Fire Department truck. Tammy Wells Photo

She told an audience of family members, community members, current and former School Board members, staff, and students, that she always felt if she needed something to benefit students, their parents would find a way.

“It is amazing to have the whole school come out,” said Sampietro of the congratulatory event. “It is the icing on the cake.”

Sampietro holds a certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from St. Joseph’s University, an Assistant Principal Certificate from the University of Southern Maine, a master’s degree in literacy from Lesley University, and   bachelor’s degree in education the University of Maine at Orono.

“(Her) commitment to trust and relationship-building is the foundation for Sampietro’s successful transformation of a traditional, rural school into a progressive institution that addresses the needs of all learners — an achievement which she defines as her greatest legacy,” Ray said in a prepared statement. He said Sampietro has improved supports for special education, and has built on the existing gifted and talented and Title 1 programs.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals annually chooses an administrator from each state as a National Distinguished Principal.

“Today’s principals are tasked with attending to students’ social and emotional needs at greater levels, even while they give their all to drive academic success in their school communities,” said L. Earl Franks, NAESP’s executive director. “NAESP’s National Distinguished Principals program recognizes the outstanding leadership of highly successful principals and is a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to outstanding school leaders.”

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