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Daniel Crispino, Principal John Barry Elementary School Meriden, CT

Daniel CrispinoThree years ago, Mr. Daniel Crispino assumed a major leadership role in transforming John Barry Elementary from a designation of “failing” to receiving the National Blue Ribbon School recognition in 2019. Principal Crispino played a pivotal role in moving one of the lowest performing schools in the district to one of the highest performing schools.

Daily, Principal Crispino repeated, “together, we will beat all odds” for students, staff, and the community to hear: John Barry would overcome all obstacles. This level of confidence was followed by ongoing support and accountability for all members of the team. This cycle became consistent and the expectation became a reality where all members of the John Barry community work toward the common goal of doing what is best for all students (regardless of circumstances) and changing the status quo.

Despite changes in the community, students, staff, and the district, Principal Crispino’s goal for Barry, that all students learn in an accepting and supportive environment, has remained consistent. Staff collectively made decisions to support the rigorous learning for all students based on two reflective questions: Why are we doing this? and How will we do it? For every confronted obstacle, staff communicated as a team to develop solutions. Mr. Crispino taught staff that while they remained unified on decisions, it is also paramount that every solution requires tangible steps. This creates an inclusive environment for students and staff, so all understand why a change is occurring, and how the school will work collectively to make improvements.

Principal Crispino restructured the master schedule so that John Barry’s re-engineered day provided an additional 100 minutes for instruction, enrichment, and teacher collaboration. Following the transformation of the master schedule, Principal Crispino led the creation of “The Barry Way.” The Barry Way cultivates a school culture that promotes continuous learning, creativity, and innovation driven by safety, responsibility, and respect.

Principal Crispino first addressed two glaring areas that needed improvement: reducing office referrals and lowering chronic student absenteeism. The Barry Way (that includes Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Responsive Classroom) creates expectations and a mindset for the school community. The Attendance Team meets regularly to analyze data, determine family/student needs, and monitor progress. An incentive system, including daily check-ins with chronically absent students, is part of a comprehensive approach. As a team, the faculty collectively created procedures, protocols, and proactive structures that reduced chronic absenteeism by greater than sixty percent and student referrals by eighty percent. In conjunction with The Barry Way, the protocols and structures fostered a sense of trust between Barry students, staff, and families. The hope is that these effective practices will remain strong beyond his time as principal, so that the community and the school can continue to thrive despite undeniable challenges.

Mr. Crispino demonstrates an inclusive leadership approach. With the support of teachers, Principal Crispino created instructional leadership teams who collectively analyzed data and cooperatively created next steps. As the administrator, Principal Crispino ensures Barry teachers are supported and held accountable while encouraging instructional alignment. Staff are consistently encouraged and challenged to present innovative ideas and embrace leadership roles. He believes academics and instruction are as good as the assessments, the plans to meet the needs of all students, and the delivery of each lesson. Each day, the school maximizes instructional minutes, aligns small group instruction across grade levels, differentiates to ensure all students are learning, and continuously reflects on how they can improve instructional delivery. John Barry’s collective transparency and shared leadership structures promote a reflective and action based mindset.

With Principal Crispino’s solid background in curriculum and instruction, his strong leadership and communication skills, and his outstanding rapport with teachers, parents, and students, he is a valued asset to the Meriden Public Schools. What Principal Crispino has accomplished at John Barry Elementary is nothing short of amazing!

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