In a ceremony in Washington, D.C., alumnus Craig Martin was officially recognized as Massachusetts’ National Distinguished Principal for 2018.
Martin, who in May was named Massachusetts Elementary Principal of the Year by the Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association, graduated with a master’s degree in education from Lesley in 2007. He is principal of the Michael J. Perkins School in South Boston.
In September, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) named Martin as National Distinguished Principal from Massachusetts, and he received his honor at the association’s awards banquet Oct. 12 in Washington, D.C.
“Today’s principals are tasked with attending to students’ social and emotional needs at greater levels, even while they give their all to drive academic success in their school communities,” said Dr. L. Earl Franks, NAESP’s executive director. “NAESP’s National Distinguished Principals program recognizes the outstanding leadership of highly successful principals and is a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to outstanding school leaders.”
At the ceremony, Martin talked about what’s so gratifying about being head of a school where about 90 percent of the students are from low-income backgrounds. He shared his remarks on social media.
“I feel like we are resilient enthusiasts,” Martin said. “We know we are going to grow together beyond anything that comes against us.”
Described as a compassionate, forward-thinking visionary and innovator, Martin has built strong relationships among the staff, students and families in the Perkins community by creating an equitable, safe and welcoming environment for all who come into the school.
Martin is also praised for his work to create a culture of praise and affirmation for students. When they come in the door each day, students get high fives from at least four faculty and staff who know their names.
Additionally, there are attendance competitions between classes to encourage kids to come to school as well as celebratory parties. The constant encouragement under Martin’s leadership has resulted in a 50 percent drop in suspensions and a 22 percent decrease in chronic absenteeism from 2012 to 2017.
In a district serving economically disadvantaged students, where almost one-third of the pupils speak a different language at home, Martin has seen standardized testing scores improve, with Latino students and English language learners surpassing the state average in English language arts and mathematics.