Massachusetts Elementary School Principals' Association
Massachusetts Elementary School Principals' Association


This award is presented to a person or persons who have given dedicated service to the Association in any given year. Recipients are chosen by the MESPA President who presents the award at the annual MESPA Spring Conference.


The MESPA Award of Distinction was developed in 1992.

It is an award given to a program, a project, or an individual, who has furthered the advancement of quality education in the Commonwealth.

The Award is an expression of appreciation by the Association to those who have given in unique ways to the advancement of quality education.


The 2017 Nomination Packet is now available.

Passios Criteria For Selection 2017

Passios Award Nomination Form 2017

To see prior years, scroll over to next tab..


The Thomas C. Passios Outstanding Principal Award was established in 1979 to honor the memory of an outstanding school leader. The award is presented annually at the MESPA Spring Conference by the Commissioner of Education to an elementary and middle-level principal who has demonstrated clear leadership in developing successful programs for children and teachers, exceptional dedication to education, outstanding professionalism and an unselfish attitude toward helping others.

The Passios Award is sponsored jointly by MESPA, The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Fitchburg State University Alumni Association. The selection committee, which includes representatives from the three organizations, reviews nominations that include letters of testimony from parents, teachers, civic leaders, fellow principals, superintendents and others familiar with the nominees. Each year three or more finalists are selected and interviewed before the final recipients are chosen.

Once chosen to represent the principals of Massachusetts, the recipients also participate in the National Distinguished Principal Program which was established in 1984 and is sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Over sixty participants, selected from each state, the District of Columbia, and private, parochial and overseas schools, are honored each October in ceremonies held in Washington, D.C.

For more information about how to nominate an individual for the Thomas C. Passios Outstanding Principal of the Year Award, please contact MESPA Executive Director Rick Rogers at 508-624-0500 or at rrogers@mespa.org.

David Keim                       keim-ndp

Miller School, Holliston


In his letter of support for David Keim for the Thomas C, Passios Outstanding Principal of the Year Award, Bradford L. Jackson, Superintendent of Schools in Holliston, describes David as “an unassuming and quiet leader whose overwhelming sense of duty and commitment to the children of his school permeates the school and strongly influences the culture of the adults and students. He is a remarkable leader who is always ready to assume new challenges and do whatever it takes to get the job done. After the Interim Principal at our K-2 school unexpectedly resigned, Dave graciously volunteered to support BOTH schools as Principal for the remainder of the year. Dave now is the lead administrator at both the Miller and Placentino Elementary Schools, responsible for the health, safety and education of over 1,600 K-5 students on a daily basis.”

David Keim has been the principal of the Fred W. Miller School in Holliston for 12 years. Before his current role, Dave was the assistant principal for 3 years at the Miller School and prior to that he was an elementary teacher for 6 years in Marlborough. Brenda Maurao, Dave’s Assistant  Principal, states she has “had the pleasure of working  with  David for the past  8 years at the Fred W. Miller  School  in Holliston,  first  as a classroom  teacher  in his building and most recently as his  assistant  principal.  He is a leader with a passion for education and children. He develops capacity in his staff, empowering them to share and learn together.  Dave makes thoughtful decisions and includes others in the process when appropriate.”

Daniel P. Jewett, Miller Elementary 4th Grade Teacher notes, “Mr. Keim begins every day by making a walk around the perimeter of the school to be aware of the outside of the school, and then walking the halls saying good morning to all staff before school begins. He is very much a presence and the staff knows this. Throughout the day he is around the school and in the high traffic areas at certain times during the day for the students to see. He is in direct contact with the school superintendent, fire chief and police chief to discuss any situations that have arisen and any potential problems by discussing and being proactive about solutions. This makes our school well prepared to handle both every day and extraordinary events over the course of the school day, week and year.”

Heather H. Scaringella, M. Ed. writes, “One of the most exhilarating projects we worked on together was the Miller School Playground complete renewal. David had a mission to replace his school’s playground with more expansive equipment, increased accessibility and provide an inclusive recreational area to captivate children with all abilities. His determination yielded a grant in access of $100,000 that clinched the goal of the nearly $250,000 funding required. All who know David are inspired by his purposeful goals and energized by his ability to generate camaraderie. The playground effort exemplified this vitality”, Ms. Scaringella further states David’s tenure as a principal in the Holliston School District has been nothing less than remarkable. By means of a laser like focus on curriculum and academics, a major proponent of civic involvement, and a heavy weighting on meeting student needs David defies obstacles and offers innovative approaches resulting in very effective outcomes. David has made an impression among teachers, students, parents and the community. I am a parent whose own children have experience at the Miller School and have been actively involved in many volunteer efforts where I have had the opportunity to observe David’s contagious optimism and dedication. It brings great comfort knowing students have a principal who demonstrates impeccable personal integrity, is demanding of himself, yet accommodating and empathetic towards others. Perhaps most revealing is that students consider Principal Keim to be their ardent supporter; a consistent, respected role model providing the elements of life to children is a one of a kind treasure.”

David has served on the MESPA Board of Directors as Director of Middlesex County, Vice-President, President-Elect and President. His commitment to all principals across the state has been evident through this service. David lives in Holliston with his family.

Marie Pratt                   picture1

Blueberry Hill Elementary School, Longmeadow

She is highly regarded by teachers, parents, students and her fellow principals.” Her superintendent went on to say that as a principal, she is fair, enthusiastic, and a true leader. As a leader, she has given of her time and talents to mentor all of the new elementary principals in the district over the past five years.

She develops the elementary school schedules, shares curricula and helps to trouble shoot the myriad of problems that arise in each of the schools of the district. She has never had a complaint that has reached the level of the superintendent, which is extraordinary given the high-powered community in which she works.

On the state level, her leadership is evident. She served as a MESPA representative on the Principal Evaluation Task Force that gave input to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding this new tool. She also created a program for the district on good nutrition and response to food allergies, including anaphylactic shock that has been recognized as outstanding and received a national award for this program. Within the district, she has served on many key committees including the Teacher Evaluation Committee, the Math Committee, the Literacy Committee, and others. She brings a thoughtful, well-read perspective and is one who can build consensus. She also is leading the way in inclusion of technology into the curriculum. She has worked with parents to develop fund-raisers to bring more technology to her building. As if these contributions were not enough, she has worked with the town’s PTO’s to provide a town-wide fund-raiser so that another elementary school in a lower socio-economic area of town may have access to funding for technology.

Marie’s life is education. She brings exceptional leadership to her building and the community. She has earned respect from all constituencies through hard work, professional behavior, and innovative ideas. She takes on new challenges with enthusiasm to make the schools in her town the best they can be for all students.

In his nomination letter, Neil Gile wrote “Much of my decision to join the Longmeadow Public Schools was based on the fact that I would have an opportunity to work and collaborate closely with her. This has been an incredibly valuable and wonderful experience.” According to Suzann Higgins, a teacher, “As a staff member I would like to speak to Marie’s management style. She can run meetings with total efficiency, but can always be counted upon for a funny story or an encouraging word — she is never out of touch with the problems we struggle with every day and is quick to offer constructive advice when needed.” Jennifer Jester of the Longmeadow School Committee says, “– that parents simply trust her– they trust her leadership of the school, her dedication to the district and to students, and her honesty in the face of difficult circumstances.” And Mrs. Cynthia Schultz says, “Marie leads a school of 500 children and approximately 70 staff members with intelligence and caring while maintaining a sense of humor. Marie shares her personal vision for an elementary school with staff through small videos, poems, short readings and personal notes. She works hard to make Blueberry a welcoming school in many ways.”

Marie has served on the MESPA Board of Directors since 2009, as the Director of Hampden County. She has served in many other capacities including being a Site Manager for the United States Peace Corps, Sierra Leone, West Africa; as a teacher in the Massachusetts Migrant Education Program in Holyoke, Massachusetts; and a Jobs Specialist for Jobs for Bay State Graduates, High School of Commerce in Springfield.

She is the principal of the Blueberry Hill Elementary School in Longmeadow and has been since 1993. She is a graduate of Elms College and earned her M.Ed. from Springfield College, a C.A.G.S. from the American International College and her principal certification from Westfield State.

Brian E. Lynch

George H. Mitchell Elementary, Bridgewater

Brian E. Lynch

Brian E. Lynch

In her letter of support of the nomination of Brian Lynch, Dr. Jacqueline B. Forbes, Superintendent of Schools for the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District, states that he is “an educator of vision and passionate conviction.” She goes on to say that when faced with challenges, Brian has prevailed with “wisdom and a sense of purpose that emphasizes the academic growth and the wellbeing of children.”

Brian has served as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, housemaster and principal in the Pembroke, Uxbridge and Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School Districts since 1983, and currently serves as the Principal of the George H. Mitchell Elementary School in Bridgewater. He has served in this school since 1997 and in this role since 2008, where his focus is always on what is best for the 1,100 students enrolled in the school.

According to Derek Swenson, Director of Curriculum and Grants in the district, Brian is “articulate, tactful and farsighted. He possesses the qualities of an exceptional instructional leader…” Fellow principal, Heidi Letendre states that Mr. Lynch is “an advocate and friend to all. The students’ eyes light up when they see him throughout the school. Through his words and actions, he always communicates his genuine care.” Upon completion of a recent assignment as the interim assistant principal at the Mitchell School, retired Massachusetts principal Helen Deranian wrote that Mr. Lynch is “a model of service to others and their families; no matter their role in the school. Teacher student, parent, custodian, bus driver, volunteer are equal players at the Mitchell School. Mr. Lynch exudes patience, fairness, generosity and excellence”.

Brian is also valued for his contributions to the school district. He has been responsible for overseeing the district’s science curriculum for kindergarten through grade four, planning and organizing the schedule and aligning the kits to match the state curriculum standards at each grade level. He meets with the science teachers to discuss the efficiency and appropriateness of each kit and makes adjustments accordingly. During professional development days he has assumed responsibility for facilitating various modules and creating grade level curriculum pamphlets. Brian’s knowledge of best practices and his offering of rich professional development opportunities to the science teachers has earned him district-wide appreciation and respect as an instructional leader.

According to third grade teacher, Elaine Aveni, Brian is credited with initiating Team Mitchell. This school-wide concept promotes school unity, spirit and diversity, resulting in a positive effect on overall school climate as well as relationships throughout the school with students, teachers and parents. He fosters a caring approach with all of the students and it is obvious that they enjoy time spent with him. “His sense of humor and sincerity are special gifts to the students.”

Penny Jones, also a teacher at Mitchell Elementary School, shares that, under Brian’s leadership, monthly team meetings are held at each grade level to plan; share resources; and discuss curriculum, assessments or other grade level initiatives. These meetings are held in addition to monthly faculty meetings and professional learning community meetings (P.L.C.). Specialists are scheduled to afford classroom teachers common planning time during the school day. “Brian endeavors to make his staff feel that we are important, both individually and as team members, with a common goal – to make our school a place where students thrive academically, emotionally, and socially.”

Ellen George, a Mitchell Elementary School parent, states that Mr. Lynch “approaches his work with cheer and diligence, taking pride in the achievements of the school, and is always looking for ways to improve.” The regard and admiration that the students have for him is evidenced by a second grade class choosing him as a person that they looked up to and considered a hero, writing short essays stating why they chose him for this honor. Ms. George goes on to say that Brian “works under the philosophy that the education of our children is a team effort, linking the school and families, and always encouraging us to take an active role in our children’s education.”

Under Brian’s leadership, assessment data and test results are analyzed, discussed and shared among staff, to identify weaknesses and strengths. School Improvement Plans with long and short range goals are planned, developed and implemented to address areas of concern. MCAS scores for the school have seen recent significant increases and, as a result, the George H. Mitchell Elementary School is designated as a Level One School.

A graduate of Stonehill College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education coupled with a concentration in Reading Education, Brian has also attended the University of Dublin where he obtained a Certificate of Irish Studies; Bridgewater State University where he earned a Masters of Education in School Administration, and Fitchburg State where he earned a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership and Management.

Brian lives in Middleborough with his wife, Kathleen where they are both active in their church and community.They are the proud parents of four daughters, Bridget, Margaret, Caroline, and Grace.

Jane Tremblay

Summer Street School, Lynnfield

Jane Tremblay

Jane Tremblay

In a letter of support for the nomination of Jane Tremblay for the Thomas C. Passios Outstanding Principal of the Year Award, Dr. Thomas Jefferson, Superintendent of Schools in Lynnfield, noted that the nomination was submitted on behalf of all of Lynnfield, including students, parents, faculty, administrative colleagues, the School Committee, and the community-at-large. He went on to state that “Jane is a leader with vision. She understands the role of data informed instruction and has left no stone unturned to guarantee that every student in Summer Street School receives first class instruction and whatever supports are needed to guarantee success.” He goes on to say that “it is always about the kids – what needs to be done and where, to make sure that everyone is making progress.”

Jane Tremblay has been the principal of Summer Street School in Lynnfield for eight years. Prior to assuming that role, she was an elementary teacher in Lynnfield for 18 years, and to this day, she remains the lead teacher. “Jane’s actions are always student-centered”, says Dorothy Presser, Chairperson of the Lynnfield School Committee. “She is relentless in working to ensure that every student in her school has the resources and supports necessary to master the foundational skills to be successful students throughout their entire education. Ms. Presser also notes that Jane recognizes that school climate is an important factor in student success and that “creating and maintaining a respectful, responsible community of learners is a constant focus at Summer Street School.” “Jane is well able to articulate the connection between a safe and respectful learning environment and positive student achievement. She successfully draws the parents, students and staff into the mission of building a positive school environment.”

Her colleague and fellow Lynnfield principal, Brian Bemiss, calls Jane a visionary – one who “sees the big picture of where she wants her school to go, while having the ability to focus on the day to day details that make the Summer Street School one of the most academically successful schools in the state.” He goes on to say that “Jane has created a culture of high expectations for the effort, productivity and attitudes of her students. These standards for student learning have been transferred to all the teachers and staff, and they act as a team to provide necessary supports to help all students succeed.”

Ms. Lorie Kelly, a fourth grade teacher at Summer Street School and the President of the Lynnfield Teachers Association, quoted Mike Schmoker in highlighting Jane’s commitment to the professional learning community at the school – “It all starts with a group of teachers who meet regularly as a team to identify essential and valued student learning, develop common formative assessments, analyze current levels of achievement, set achievement goals, share strategies and then create lessons to improve upon those results.” She states that “Ms. Tremblay has redefined teacher collaboration and professional development” at Summer Street School. She goes on to say, “She exemplifies the consummate principal through her leadership and pedagogical expertise.”

Jane is also highly regarded for her contributions to the school district. She has been recognized for her mentoring, support and professional collaboration to new principals and elementary curriculum specialists. She has served with distinction on the district leadership team and participated in the hiring and mentoring of new Team Chairs and a Special Services Director.

At Summer Street School, ongoing and regularly scheduled Assessment Meetings are a core component of the school improvement plan. These meetings are scheduled at the start of each school year, with grade level teams meeting for in depth discussions of classroom data analysis and student growth – social, emotional and academic. Interim assessments are analyzed, recent classroom performance is discussed and social development of the children is noted every six weeks. From these discussions, action items are created to assist or challenge students and the entire team understands their role. Student data and action items appear on her detailed data sheets that follow students year to year.

The increased and consistently high levels of student achievement at Summer Street School are demonstrated by formative and summative assessments, including MCAS results. Under Jane’s leadership and through the efforts and commitment of the entire school community, the school has been recognized by Governor Deval Patrick and has been named a Commendation School based on 2010 and 2011 results.

In addition to her role as school principal, Jane is a graduate school professor at Merrimack College where she has most recently taught courses in early childhood education and curriculum, instruction and assessment in Science, Health and Physical Education. She has also presented on using data to improve student achievement to such educational groups as the North Shore Education Consortium, the Salem State Collaborative and the Northeast Consortium for Staff Development. Jane has consulted on this topic, as well, in a number of schools and school districts in Massachusetts.

Jane resides in Danvers, Massachusetts with her husband, Greg, and their three children, Jennifer, Gregory and Mary Margaret.