In a surprise announcement last Wednesday morning, Assistant Principal and 2004 graduate of Cranston High School West, John Fontaine, was named Assistant Principal of the Year by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals (RIASP). . The award was presented to Fontaine by RIASP Executive Director, Donald Rebello in the school library in front of dozens of Fontaine’s family members, colleagues and the school’s Student Leadership team.
Fontaine arrived at the event under the guise of attending a planning meeting with Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse. Once entering the room and seeing the crowd gathered before him, Fontaine quickly realized that there was in fact, no such planning meeting underway.
The nomination process was in-depth, and included the submission of written recommendations from Fontaine’s immediate supervisors and colleagues, as well as from students. Once he was declared a finalist, a team of visiting RIASP members spent an afternoon at Cranston West, touring the school with Fontaine to learn more about his responsibilities there, and conducting interviews with panels of parents, students and staff members.
According to a recent RIASP press release Fontaine’s qualifications stood out from the rest, thanks to his dedication and investment to the CHSW community.
“A variety of professional staff at Cranston West recommended Mr. Fontaine for this prestigious award and pointed out his many accomplishments, not the least among them being the support that he provides for faculty and staff, coupled with his most positive relationship with students. He is also described as very connected with the community, and having a keen sense of what is needed to project to the community all the good accomplishments made by students and staff at Cranston West. In this regard, he played a significant role in organizing an alumni association at Cranston High School West, having served as liaison between the newly formed alumni association and its board of directors,” the release reads. “Additionally, Mr. Fontaine is intimately involved with many academic initiatives at Cranston West. Most noteworthy has been his direct involvement in improving the curriculum of the high school’s math intervention class via a partnership with the Highlander Institute’s Rhode Island FUSE program. This effort involved introducing blended learning strategies into classrooms coupled with efforts to use new technology applications to further enhance student achievement. Also, Mr. Fontaine played a leading role in developing a Response to Intervention Program at Cranston West, structured to improve students’ skills and academic achievement in both math and English Language Arts. He is described as a leader who daily concentrates not only on student discipline, but also on how he may consistently contribute to student achievement and academic growth.”
Superintendent Nota-Masse expressed her congratulations to Fontaine on behalf of herself and the school department. Nota-Masse has worked with Fontaine since his early days as a math teacher at Cranston High School East.
“We are extremely proud of John. He’s a Falcon, so his heart is here, and we’re very proud of him. This is quite an accomplishment to be recognized by your peers and by the principal’s association as well as by the state. John has a very difficult job as do all of us and his dedication to what your lives are all about is evident. I am sure it’s evident to all of you as it is to us, that he’s very passionate about kids and what happens in the school and to all of you. I believe there is no better person in the state to have this recognition,” she said.
During the award ceremony, Principal Tom Barbieri spoke to Fontaine’s dedication and qualifications.
“Here’s a person that I will tell you, best exemplifies this school and us, because if you think about this award, Assistant Principal of the year, this is really telling about everybody that is in this room right now. My student leadership is all here. All the teachers and faculty and fellow administrators are here right now,” he said. “A key piece about all this is the person that he is as a family man, and we have his family sitting here in the front row. The other piece is Mr. Fontaine is a Falcon. He graduated from here, he sat in these chairs, he walked these halls, he did everything that the students here are doing, and here he comes back in a full circle, now being assistant principal here in this school. There is nothing I have ever given Mr. Fontaine to do that he has ever hesitated about or said that he would not do for us.”
He encouraged Fontaine to savor the moments of the day, to enjoy the day, and expressed his pride and congratulations.
An emotional Fontaine thanked RIASP and those present at the event, and then spoke to the teamwork and group effort that takes place at Cranston West, making his job one that he loves.
“There are lots of people I work with that are very deserving of this award here at Cranston West and throughout the city,” he said. “For me, it’s not about me, it’s about the school. When I was walking the interview team around the school, I was trying to show the school off and make sure that they knew that this wasn’t just one person, that this is the effort of a group of administrators, a group of students, a group of teachers and a group of parents.”
Fontaine also thanked his own parents, his extended family members in the audience as well as his wife Lauren, also a graduate of CHSW, and his children, noting that it would not be possible to do all he does without the support of his family.
Fontaine’s family members spoke to his dedication to his job and the Cranston community.
“He just works hard and he tries his hardest all the time,” said son Jack, age 10.
His wife Lauren agreed.
“He’s a wonderful husband, an outstanding dad,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better father for our children. He always pushes himself and puts himself last, putting everyone else first. He takes the three kids to events here and he loves it. I don’t know how he does all that he does, but he is so deserving of this award and I am so proud of him.”