The Washington Post has named Jesse Kraft, the principal of Coates Elementary School, the principal of the year.
Kraft was selected from a group of 19 finalists who lead schools in Virginia, Maryland, and the District. His leadership during stay-at-home orders was highlighted by staff and community members who said that Kraft worked to ensure mental health resources were available students. He also used the school’s Facebook page to share lessons when the school system faced major hurdles with its rollout of distance learning.
Here’s more from Fairfax County Public Schools on Kraft:
“Jesse has taken strides to make our community feel welcome and to partner with them as much as possible,” says nominator Josie Mani, gifted education teacher. “He has made Coates more inviting and welcoming to all. We have bright, colorful murals and artwork inside, and welcoming signs and banners outside. Jesse invites community members, such as churches, businesses and the Coates family.” And Kraft has worked with these community organizations to encourage their involvement at Coates, including mentoring students.
“He is the face that welcomes these new students to our school,” adds Mani. “He maintains an active social media presence and even learned some Spanish so that he could further connect the school and community. Coates’ parent liaison writes,”Mr. Kraft is always there to listen and support ideas and make them a reality. His example of humility, a love of learning, and care for others motivates everyone at Coates ES to be better employees, parents, and students.” The combination of diverse programs for parents has drawn many additional parents to volunteer at the school.
Kraft is a frequent visitor in classrooms, where he observes, encourages, and teaches. Math and reading resource teachers are called upon to help build teacher capacities and enhance their practices. Still a teacher at heart, Kraft teaches Positivity Project lessons, quarterly grade-level assemblies, and is teaching upper level students the fine art of public speaking in a series of lessons dubbed “Talk Like a Boss.”
Kraft, who has been the principal of Coates ES since 2016, began his career in FCPS as a teacher at Newington Forest Elementary in 1996. He then served as assistant principal at Westlawn Elementary and Oak Hill Elementary. In 2009, he was the principal of Providence Elementary. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and was named FCPS Outstanding First Year Principal in 2010.
Photo via FCPS