Easy to Appreciate EMS Principals on Special Week

January 22, 2021 / Andrea Wenger
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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared January 24-30, 2021 “School Principals Appreciation Week.”

“Appreciating our principals is natural, easy, and well deserved,” says Paul Leaman, head of school, about Maria Archer, K-8 principal, and Justin King, 9-12 principal.

In their roles, Archer and King do everything from big picture thinking to emptying trash cans, acknowledges Leaman.

“Nothing is too small or ‘unimportant’ for them to do. That’s because they value each student and teacher in their care so much and recognize the physical, emotional, and social aspects of school life that need to come together to create a stable learning and work environment.”

Under the leadership of King and Archer, together with administrative colleagues and teachers,  EMS has joined schools nationwide in massive shifts due to COVID-19 since March of 2020. Due to its smaller size, EMS was able to keep learning in person for the fall with online learning options for personal needs and mitigation protocol as needed.

Colleagues across the school have appreciated the principals, particularly during these unusually challenging months. Some of their comments and observations include:

  • I have so appreciated working with Maria and Justin, observing the time and care that they invest in our students and teachers and the wisdom they share in our decision making.  These past two school years have been unique, demanding constant creative problem solving, patience, and grace.  These are qualities that Justin and Maria embody and inspire others to embody as well. — Mike Stoltzfus, Director of Business Affairs
  • Maria empowers, listens, and respects everyone.  The way she leads is an example of how I want to treat my students.  By being cared for by her, I can care for my students.  — Erika Gasho, 5th grade teacher
  •  Maria has the gift of true leadership as she brings out the very best in all of her faculty and staff. We know she believes in us, and so we can somehow believe even more in ourselves. — Heidi, third grade teacher and elementary team leader

And Garrett Gregory, Student Council Organization president agrees. “Mr. King has worked tirelessly to better our school through improved communication, connections with students, and making sure everyone’s needs are met. EMHS students cannot thank him enough for all the hard work he has done!”

Virginia School Principals Appreciation Week


WHEREAS, school principals work cooperatively to direct, develop, and inspire all members of
the school staff and student body, and to communicate effectively with parents to engage them in
the learning process; and

WHEREAS, principals serve as educational leaders, responsible for managing the policies,
regulations, and procedures necessary to ensure a safe and effective learning environment for all
students in Virginia’s public and private schools; and

WHEREAS, principals and teachers are entrusted with the opportunity and the responsibility of
guiding, directing, nurturing, mentoring, and imparting knowledge to our children while they are
at school; and

WHEREAS, principals must work collaboratively with teachers, staff, students, parents, and the
community at-large to proactively prepare students to be self-reliant and productive citizens; and

WHEREAS, Virginia School Principals Appreciation Week is an opportunity to recognize the
hard work of Virginia school principals and to recognize the importance of principals in ensuring
that every child has access to a quality education;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize January 24-30, 2021, as VIRGINIA SCHOOL PRINCIPALS APPRECIATION WEEK in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.

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