Middleburgh Central School District Leader Named New York State Principal of the Year

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Matthew Sloane

ALBANY, NY (03/27/2024) (readMedia)-- ALBANY, NY – Matthew Sloane, principal at Middleburgh Jr/Sr High School, has been selected as the 2024 New York State Secondary School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). This award is given annually to a middle or high school principal who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the students in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

Sloane will also represent New York State as the NASSP NYS Principal of the Year as sponsored by SAANYS' national affiliate, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). NASSP will select the national principal of the year from all the state finalists.

Among his many accomplishments throughout his career, Sloane has been instrumental in overhauling the "entire culture of the building" at Middleburgh Jr/Sr High, a change which he says, "has been the most rewarding." He explains that there were "significant social and emotional health issues" when he arrived as principal and he had many conversations with those involved, including students, staff, and community members.

Realizing a change was necessary, he "approached the PEAR (Partnership in Education and Resiliency) Institute, a social and emotional research group, and together we began the work to overhauled the entire culture of the building. We focused on creating an environment of belonging, acceptance and collaboration." He says the "results were immediate. There was a palpable difference in the way students interacted with staff, each other, how they approached their academics and the overall safety of the building."

Sloane adds that, "As the initiative continued to grow, students began to develop trusting relationships with the school and feel ownership and belonging. We leveraged this trust during the current school year, where we made a unanimous decision to create a distraction free environment free of cell phones and devices." Now, Sloane says, the students "feel that the school cares about them as individuals and we have seen a shift where students will share their needs with the understanding they will be heard and supported."

Establishing a new culture, "an inclusive and empowering environment within the school and surrounding community" has been integral to Sloane's work as principal as well as to the students' success. He says that he is "constantly looking at equity through three lenses: academic, economic, and belonging." In addition, he and his team emphasize "the importance of social and emotional well-being." He explains that "By fostering an inclusive and empathetic environment, we addressed the unique challenges faced by students and staff, promoting emotional resilience and enhancing the overall well-being of the school community." Sloane emphasizes that "It is our goal to make sure every student feels a sense of belonging."

Amy Irwin, Middleburgh Elementary School principal, notes that Sloane "encourages innovative thinking for his faculty and his students. He is always open to new ideas and fresh thinking when it comes to teaching and learning. He is an advocate for all students, keeping in constant communication with families through good times and difficult times."

Middleburgh Central School District Superintendent of Schools, Mark Place, says that Sloane's "knowledge, skills, and experience sets him apart from other principals." Place adds that, as principal at Middleburgh Jr/Sr High, Sloane "has overseen the school's transformation from a school under review to one in good standing. The school is now recognized as one of the Top 10 High Schools in the Capital Region as rated by US News and World Report. This designation has only been possible because of Mr. Sloane's focus on continuous improvement and laser-like focus on evaluating our data and supporting our instructional staff."

Sloane received his bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a master's degree in secondary education from Suffolk University, a master's degree in educational leadership from Emmanuel College, and a school district leadership certificate from the College of St. Rose.

Sloane and fellow 2024 award winners will be recognized at SAANYS' annual awards celebration, taking place on May 3 at the Saratoga Hilton in Saratoga Springs, New York.

SAANYS represents nearly 22,000 school administrators, supervisors, and retirees. As a professional association, SAANYS is committed to providing direction, service, and support to the membership in their efforts to improve the quality of education and leadership in New York State schools.

SAANYS is affiliated with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).