West Haven High’s Dana Paredes honored as Assistant Principal of the Year
West Haven High School Assistant Principal Dana Paredes has been named the Connecticut Association of Schools’ 2019 High School Assistant Principal of the Year, the association announced in a letter circulated by local school officials.
“On behalf of the Connecticut Association of Schools, I would like to congratulate you on being selected as our state’s 2019 High School Assistant Principal of the Year!” wrote Donna Hayward, chairwoman of the Association’s Awards and Recognition Committee, in a letter to Paredes.
“It is a fitting tribute to a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and an unrivaled commitment to her students, school and community,” Hayward wrote. “You were chosen from a pool of gifted administrators, thus giving testimony to your prodigious success as an instructional leader and building manager.”
Paredes is West Haven High’s acting principal following the death late last month of former Principal Pamela Bellmore Gardner — and she acted in that capacity when Gardner was unable to do so during her 18-month battle with cancer.
Reached at school Wednesday, Paredes said, “I’m really, really excited. It’s something that Pam really encouraged me to apply for. I wish she were here to see it, but I’m really excited...
“So many former students reached out to me, and I think that was the nicest part — the amount of former students who reached out to me,” Paredes said.
Paredes was nominated for the award by Melanie Deninger, chairwoman of the high school’s English Department.
Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro and Board of Education Chairwoman Rosemary Russo both said they were thrilled to see Paredes get the honor. Both also said she has their support to be the high school’s permanent principal.
“I don’t think that they could have picked a better person,” said Russo. “She’s well-deserved of the honor and hard working ... and I congratulate her for her determination.”
Cavallaro was proud of the choice.
“A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be interviewed and I was happy to do that because I thought she was a worthy candidate, especially the way she handled the last 15 months during Pam’s illness,” he said. “She definitely took charge of the high school while at the same time always keeping in mind that Pam was still the principal.”
Paredes has been doing Gardner’s job when Gardner was unable to, as well as her own job and her role overseeing the district’s Power School student datebase system, Cavallaro said.
“She’s the go-to person in this school district,” he said.
“She’s going to be my recommendation for the next principal at West Haven High School. ... I think it’s just a matter of timing,” Cavallaro said.
Paredes said Cavallaro “has shared with me that I am his recommendation ... and I would be very excited in that role.”
Paredes will be honored along with assistant principals of the year at the elementary and middle school levels, at a recognition dinner at Saint Clements Castle in Portland in October 2019, the letter said.
She also will be honored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals at its conference in Boston July 18-20, 2019.