Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy principal receives state recognition
Shields named Maryland’s National Distinguised Principal
As principal of Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, Kristin Shields wears a number of different hats, both literally and figuratively, and fulfills a number of different roles in her school and in the community. Now she’ll fill a new role, as Maryland’s 2016 National Distinguished Principal.
Shields was informed of her selection March 31 at her school by system officials and representatives from the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals, or MAESP.
“The NDP program gives recognition to the best and the brightest. It’s an opportunity for principals to be recognized for the long hours, the sincere dedication, great ideas and
motivation that they display as they lead their school communities,” Stephen Hagenbuch, executive director of MAESP, said in an email statement. “Kristin’s love for children and school community is demonstrated every day. It’s quite an honor to be selected as Maryland’s NDP. Kristin is clearly an outstanding principal and deserving of this honor.”
Although she knew she had been nominated, the announcement came as a surprise, and involved stealth on the part of her staff to get her out of the building long enough to prepare the surprise assembly.
“Dr. [Sylvia] Lawson, the assistant superintendent of school administration and I went to do a home visit, and while we were out, the staff set up a surprise assembly, so when we came back, I was completely shocked,” Shields said.
The National Distinguished Principals program was established in 1984 to recognize elementary and mid-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and climate for students, families and staff in their learning communities, according to the National Association of Elementary School Principals website.
In addition, Shields received $5,000 from MAE- SP’s partner, the K-12 publisher Mentoring Minds.
Also, Shields and other National Distinguished Principals from around the nation are invited to Washington, D.C., in October for a two-day event and recognition ceremony.
Barbara Anderson, a fourth grade teacher at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy, was one of the teachers who nominated Shields for the award.
“She spends every waking moment at the school. She’s here on the weekends, she’s at every function in Nanjemoy. She does whatever she needs to do for the students, staff, faculty, everyone. She’s just a phenomenal principal,” Anderson said. “Out of all the principals nominated, it’s wonderful that she was picked. She’s very deserving.”
In her nomination letter, Anderson described Shields’ involvement in the community, including Christmas in Nanjemoy, which provides local families with a night of festivities, including a holiday feast, gifts, and a visit from Santa Claus, the Beaver Fun Run, an annual fundraiser for the school, and a backpack program begun by Shields which provides food and other necessities to children in need.
“Mrs. Shields is involved in local activities and is a recognized leader in the Nanjemoy community,” Anderson said in her nomination letter.
Another program Shields has begun in collaboration with the local Lions Club is the “Reach Out Reading” program.
“One of our goals for this community is to have our own book mobile, that’s our dream, so what we did last year, was we had this ‘treasure truck,’ we dressed up like pirates, we had books donated by the Lions Club and other organizations, and we visited 17 different families,” Shields said.
Dressed as a pirate, Shields delivered “treasure chests” filled with books, physical education equipment, healthy snacks and math games to needy families during the summer, and hopes to expand the program next year.
“One of the biggest things we try to do is to put books in the hands of children,” Shields said.
Shields has dressed up to take on a number of different roles at her school, from the “Writing Doctor,” supporting students with writing assistance, to “Chef Shields,” promoting healthy snacks.
“I have a costume closet, because I dress in costume quite a bit here,” Shields said.
Shields began her teaching career in Prince George’s County as an elementary school teacher and a math specialist, but came to Charles County Public Schools in 2000 as a vice principal at J.C. Parks Elementary. She served as an assistant principal at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy be- fore coming back in 2011 as principal.
Shields was named a Washington Post Distinguished Education Leader in 2014, and was CCPS’s 2013-2014 Principal of the Year.
In Anderson’s nomination letter, she said that Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy’s PARCC scores exceeded state and county averages in grades 3 through 5 for math and grade 5 for reading.
Shields lives in the Nanjemoy community and said it is the community which helps make the school strong.
“We’re a very close-knit family type of environment,” Shields said.
Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy parent and PTO president Jenn Brough said Shields is committed to the role of the school in the community.
“Mrs. Shields works with the Nanjemoy Community in everything that she does, coordinating events to not overlap, housing events for the community, putting together community projects such as our Thanksgiving day dinner for the seniors, and backpacks sent home every weekend to those kids less fortunate,” Brough said in an email. “The Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy community is very proud to have Mrs. Shields be named as Maryland’s National Distinguished Principal.”
Shields said she is honored and humbled to receive the National Distinguished Principal Award, but said it is not just about her.
“It’s not just one person. It’s the partnership between school teachers, staff, parents, students, the community and central office; it’s all that support that makes this school so wonderful,” Shields said.
Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School Principal Kristin Shields discusses a math game with kindergartners Kaylanne Clemons and Jayden Gantt. Shields was named Maryland’s 2016 National Distinguished Principal Award recipient.
Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Principal Kristin Shields, third from left, was presented with a check for $5,000 on March 31, when she was announced as Maryland’s recipient of the National Distinguished Principal Award. Pictured are, from left, Teresa Sherman, Director of Educator Relations, Mentoring Minds; Kimberlyn Pratesi, President of the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals; Shields, and Judy Walker, National Distinguished Principal Selection Committee member, Maryland State Department of Education.