2014-12-12 / Front Page

Opening the door to education

Buxton Elementary’s O’Donnell named ‘Outstanding Assistant Principal’
By TAMMY WELLS | Senior Staff Writer

Buxton Center Elementary School Assistant Principal Kim O'Donnell, pictured in her office earlier this week, was recently named “Maine's Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year” for 2015 by the Maine Principals' Association.

BUXTON — Friday, Dec. 5 was a special day at Buxton Elementary School. It was the day that the Maine Principals' Association announced, at a school-wide assembly, that Assistant Principal Kim O'Donnell had been selected “Maine's Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year” for 2015.

It was a significant acknowledgment of O'Donnell's work with young children over the past 26 years.

O'Donnell received the award based on her accomplishments as a strong leader in elementary education, and as a role model in the development of positive school culture and building student-centered programs, according to MPA Executive Director Richard Durost. He said she has also been instrumental in creating high-quality professional development for the staff in her school and district.

O'Donnell has been the assistant principal at the school since 2008. She previously taught kindergarten and multi-age classes in Scarborough, and was a reading recovery teacher in several Sanford elementary schools.

O'Donnell said kindergarten to fifth grade is the age range with which she feels most at home.

“This is where I feel I have the most impact,” the Gorham native said in an interview at the school earlier this week. “I like the little guys, and I like to see them grow.”

Her work as assistant principal can involve a number of daily tasks ”“ greeting children at the door when they arrive in the morning, visiting classrooms, being what she described as a “presence for kids” and more.

“My day is dictated by the needs of students and teachers,” she said.

O'Donnell said her students have called her by many titles: the assistant principal, the vice principal, the other principal, and one student told her mother that O'Donnell's job is to hold the door.

In a way, that's true. Besides her “door duty” in the morning, it could be said that O'Donnell, as well as others in her profession, hold open the door to education.

Aside from her work with students, O'Donnell crafts professional development programs for staff.

“Teachers have a hard job,” she said, arriving at school early, working the day, spending time preparing for the week ahead on the weekends and in the evenings. Everyone leaves the school with a bag full of work to take home, she said.

“Teachers give a lot of heart and soul to kids, and that emotional component is draining sometimes,” said O'Donnell. “My job is to support staff and teachers.”

O'Donnell called the award by the Maine Principals' Association humbling.

“It really belongs to every kid and staff person in this building,” she said. “It's really our award. It's as much about the kids as it is about me.”

O'Donnell will be honored by the MPA at the spring conference on April 30.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

Return to top