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Nolan deemed Principal of the Year

Photo provided BUCKEYE NORTH Elementary Principal Susan Nolan is recognized as the 2020 Principal of the Year by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center on Wednesday. She is pictured, at center, with, from left, Buckeye Local Board of Education President Clint Powell, JCESC Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Ron Sismondo, Buckeye Local Superintendent Kim Leonard and Assistant Superintendent Scott Celestin.

BRILLIANT — Buckeye North Elementary Principal Susan Nolan has been recognized for her contributions to her school and community after being named the Jefferson County Educational Service Center’s 2020 Principal of the Year.

Nolan was surprised Wednesday during a special assembly of staff, teachers and Buckeye Local School District officials in the auditorium of the school, which was decorated with signs from staff and students, and received the honor from JCESC Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Ron Sismondo. Buckeye Local Superintendent Kim Leonard welcomed Nolan to the stage and said Nolan was greatly admired for her many contributions.

“This is a very special day here at North Elementary for a very special lady. You get the opportunity to work with her every single day and she gives it her all. She gives 150 percent seven days a week,” Leonard said. “We all truly appreciate her.”

Sismondo listed the criteria for the honor and said Nolan, who has been an educator for 42 years and spent the past 13 as principal, has been actively involved in professional organizations, personally involved in the community and ensures a positive school climate. In addition, she has shown leadership in her building, district, community and state. Her many achievements include implementing the Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program to give fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers a chance to volunteer and be positive role models in the building; obtaining a $54,000 grant to acquire nearly 300 seats from the former Follansbee Middle School and update the school auditorium; purchasing Chromebooks and new playground equipment with proceeds from grants and fundraising efforts; conducting fundraisers for community causes such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Hounds’ Haven; ensuring students and families in need receive Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets and toys; chairing the district’s annual spelling bee; organizing the Back to School Bash; and taking a lead role in Team BLUE (Buckeye Local Unites Everyone) to enhance Panther Pride across the district. She also takes active roles in building and district leadership teams, provides scholarships for two Buckeye Local High School graduates and has supported the school and community through her involvement in the Brilliant Lions Club and Alpha Delta Kappa Sorority International, holding offices at the chapter and state levels for the latter and currently serving as ADK president for the state of Ohio. Her accolades continue with recognition from the Mingo Knights of Columbus to the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators.

In her nomination letter from school secretary Jelene Creamer and North staff, Nolan was revered for inspiring and providing students and staff with many opportunities to be creative and successful.

“She goes above and beyond for her North Family,” it states, in part. “On a daily basis, she sees, hears, listens and helps the students through school, personal and private issues. She is truly available to them and her staff too.”

Nolan received an award and a $700 check from the JCESC to benefit the school plus flowers and balloons from district officials, and she tearfully thanked everyone for their support.

“It’s overwhelming,” she later said. “I just feel like I wouldn’t be where I am without the staff and students. They make my life so tremendous and I love what I do.”

Buckeye Local Board of Education Board President Clint Powell was also on hand and praised Nolan for her achievement.

“She’s well-deserving of the award,” he said. “This is one of the things that’s a reflection of her leadership. She has community support and the staff and students love her. She has done tremendous things for the district and we’re lucky to have her.”

JCESC Superintendent Chuck Kokiko said the award is a way to distinguish those who give so much to the school system.

“Building administrators are often lost in the day-to-day operations of a school. In reality, they are the key to successful implementation of district programs,” he said. “For many years, the JCESC staff has been recognizing innovative teachers through the awarding of Best Practices Grants. The Principal of the Year award allows for the hard work and dedication of building principals to be noted as well. I would like to commend all of our principals for the work they do each and every day as well as extend a special congratulations to Mrs. Nolan on this accomplishment.”

This is the third year for the Principal of the Year Award and the second such honor for Buckeye Local Schools. The award is generally given during JCESC’s annual Administrator’s Breakfast meeting prior to the start of school for districts within its consortium, but the COVID-19 outbreak led this year’s event to be canceled.

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