NORTH COLLINS — Annie Metcalf, who has been at the helm of the North Collins Junior-Senior High School for the past nine years, has been named principal of the year by the School Administrators Association of New York State.
As the state designee, Metcalf will now be eligible for consideration for the national award, given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Metcalf was nominated by Erie 2 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services Coordinator Theresa Gray, who presented several reasons why she said she believed Metcalf deserved this designation.
“She has led the North Collins Central School District through the rankings in Business First, without creating a culture that is only about those standards,” Gray said. “And she has made it possible for numerous students to find success, when others may have written them off.”
North Collins Elementary School Principal John Cataldo said, “I have never met another individual more dedicated, more collaborative or more a model of instructional leadership than Annie Metcalf. Every conversation, regardless of the audience, is about children and families, and how to best serve them.”
Interim Superintendent Joan Thomas said that this award is most deserved. “She is one of the best principals I have ever worked with, ” Thomas said. “She works through difficult situations, always focused on what is important for the students.”
Thomas said that, with Metcalf at its helm, the local school has been transformed from low-performing to one of the best in Western New York.
“I feel very honored to be working here with her,” Thomas added. “She has elevated the school’s standing, while she works with a very diverse population.”
Among the local school’s most recent accolades, one came from New York state itself, when it named North Collins High School a reward school for educational excellence, last year. The year 2013 also saw the school gain recognition nationally as a U.S. News & World Report silver medal school.
Metcalf said that education was not her primary focus, during her earlier years. She spent 18 years as a dental hygienist, before pursuing higher degrees in education and school counseling.
“My daughter urged me to go back to college,” she said. “I did it, but viewed it as an intellectual challenge. I didn’t know it would become a wonderful path.”
While accepting the current accolades, Metcalf pointed to those around her for the success that she is enjoying.
“When I came here it was evident that North Collins had so much teaching talent. If I’ve had anything to do with our status, it is simply nurturing our talent and setting high expectations.”
According to Metcalf, the North Collins school’s recent academic success is due to the teachers’ adopting new styles of instruction to meet the students’ needs.
“It makes me proud for the community and the work the children have done, over the past nine years,” she said. “They step up to the plate, even though we keep moving the plate.”
Metcalf said that she found it to be remarkable that this award was given to a principal of a small, rural school, but found that designation satisfying. “It’s a great honor to represent at the state level for a smaller, rural school,” she said. “There are a lot of us out there, but we usually sit in the background.”
While she said that she is looking at yet another uncertain budget building season, Metcalf made her pitch for more attention to small school needs. “Wonderful things are happening in those schools, but we need equitable funding,” she said.
Metcalf will be recognized for her accomplishments during an awards ceremony scheduled for May 9 in Latham, N.Y.