Poland principal named New York State Administrator of the Year
POLAND - When Poland Middle School/High School Principal Jason Mitchell was recently on his way to Albany for the New York State Council on Leadership and Student Activities conference, he thought it was just the Poland Central School Student Council that would be receiving an award.
Poland's Student Council was recognized at the event - being named as a New York State Honor Council for the 19th straight time - but there also was a twist.
Mitchell was honored with the New York State Administrator of the Year award.
As the announcement was being made, Mitchell's two daughters, Sydney, 9, and Claire, 6, jumped out, and his wife, Jennifer, was there too.
"I certainly was surprised," Mitchell said. "It was a nice, pleasant surprise for me."
The award ceremony took place on Nov. 18 in Albany. It was the 25th annual NYS CLSA conference.
Poland Central School District students, staff and administrators wrote nominations in support of Mitchell, said Kevin Ford, a Poland science teacher and Student Council advisor who is also on the NYS CLSA board as the state executive director of students.
"It's because of his support of student activities - not just the Student Council, but all the activities and clubs," Ford said.
'A positive way'
Mitchell joked that there is a simple plan he follows to be a successful administrator.
"Whenever the Student Council asked me for something, I just said, 'Yes,'" he said.
"It's usually kid-centered, and when it's kid-centered, it's easy for me to say 'yes' to. I determined when I started that my decisions were going to be made based on what is best for the students."
Mitchell has been instrumental in allowing for inspirational programs at Poland such as the Teen Truth Film Festival, Rachel's Challenge and a presentation by Holocaust survivor Helen Sperling.
"They compete with class time, but I think they're great experiences for the kids," Mitchell said. "If it impacts even a small number of kids in a positive way, that's good enough for me."
Schools have many roles to play, and the school's role seems to be expanding when it comes to helping students better handle issues such as bullying, Mitchell said.
"To me, that's a big part of it," he said. "It's not just about leaving here with good academics, but being good citizens as well."
The Poland Central School Student Council was not only named as an Honor Council but also took second place in the school banner competition. Banners were created around a theme of anti-bullying, and Poland's banner used a quote that Sperling shared during her visit to the school: "Thou shall not be a bystander."
Honor Councils are chosen based on community service involvement, school service and school spirit activities and leadership development.
Eighteen members of the Poland Central School Student Council attended the NYS CLSA conference. The students were able to hear motivational speakers Norm Hull, Mark Black and Heather Schultz. The next day, they had the opportunity to tour the New York State Capitol Building and take part in team-building activities in the state Legislative Building.
By winning administrator of the year, Mitchell joins Poland staff members Ford, Richard Burkowicz and Janice Watrous as Poland staff who have won state-level awards at the conference. Ford, Burkowicz and Watrous won as New York State Advisors of the Year.
Poland 10th-grader Melissa Borner was elected as the District Eight representative on the NYS CLSA state board. District 8 includes Chenango, Delaware, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida and Otsego counties.
Poland senior Gabe Broomfield completed his second term as District 8 representative this year.