Boothbay Region Elementary School announced Dec. 9, Assistant Principal Tricia Campbell is Maine’s Assistant Principal of the Year. The National Association of Elementary School Principals and Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) named her to the honor. MPA Executive Director of the Professional Division Holly Couturier and BRES Principal Shawna Kurr presented Campbell with the award.
Kurr and Special Services Administrative Assistant Christina Lorrain organized the assembly, Campbell said in an interview. The two worked classroom to classroom throughout the morning to hand out paper hearts to each student and teacher.
“They all wrote me notes (on their hearts). I've gone through about a quarter of them and I've cried a million times … Some of them say 'Thank you for making me feel safe,' 'Thank you for loving me,' 'Thank you for telling me that you love me.' It was amazing what Christina and Shawna put together. It was very meaningful and something that I'm absolutely never going to forget.”
Kurr welcomed students and staff to the assembly, inviting all to raise their hearts to Campbell every time they heard the words love or heart. Both Kurr and Couturier made sure to work the words into their addresses multiple times.
Said Kurr at the assembly, “There is this woman I know who loves her job. She comes to school every day with so much joy and love in her heart for all the students and staff at BRES. She is funny and kind and does everything she can to make sure BRES is a safe and fun place to be. It is with love and excitement that we are here today to celebrate this fantastic woman.”
On every beat, students raised their hearts to Campbell, who said it was like getting 400 hugs all at once. “But this is about the school, not just about me,” Campbell said. She added, BRES and its community shaped her to be an effective administrator. “So, they're all part of every step of that journey … That moment with those small messages from the kids – it just floors me.”
The journey to the award started last year with a nomination from then-principal Mark Tess. Campbell learned she was a finalist, but not the winner. Then in October, Campbell was notified by Couturier her name was brought forward again, since she was in the running last year. Soon, Campbell was notified she was a finalist again.
Campbell took vacation time for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving so she and her family could join her parents in Massachusetts for the holiday. As she was going through one of Maine's tolls, she answered a call from Couturier via Bluetooth who informed her she was Maine's Assistant Principal of the Year. Screaming ensued and her 10-and-2 positioned hands flew into the air.
“We got to Massachusetts and I'm telling my parents about the call. My mother said, 'I'm so excited for you.'” Campbell’s daughter Rose said “It was terrifying.”
The greatest surprise of all had Lorrain to thank. Campbell said she knew what the assembly was about beforehand and, sure enough, as she entered the gymnasium, she saw the flowers, balloons, Couturier and other CSD and AOS 98 staff.
“But there was a curve of occupied chairs in the front,” Campbell said. “I looked at the back of their heads and – you know, you just know your family? All of a sudden, like a child, like a little kid, I just immediately started crying, 'That's my mom and dad! My mom and dad are here!'”
In a followup interview, Kurr said it was a pleasure to know Campbell has been recognized for her work, and even more gratifying to work with her on a daily basis. “It's super clear to me that she is very deserving of this award. If there's anything that needs to be done around here, her hands are first in it … This idea of putting kids first is something that is thrown around in education and Tricia lives that every single day … She really puts her heart and soul into this place every single day.”
Campbell will receive the award at the MPA’s spring banquet among her peers throughout the state.
“I'm proud of the work I've done and I believe that I'm a hard worker and I prioritize the needs of our teachers and students. Once those are identified, there's not a lot to stop me until those needs are met. So, to take a minute and say 'OK, you're doing a good job' is only motivating me to say: ‘What's next? Bring it on.”