The best assistant principal in the United States, according to his peers, might just be working with Rutland students.
Greg Schillinger, assistant principal at Rutland High School, was honored last year as the Vermont Assistant Principal of the Year by the Vermont Principals’ Association. Now he is one of three finalists for the national 2019 Assistant Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
The announcement about whether the honor will go to Schillinger; Lainie Kitzmiller, of Empire High School in Tucson, Arizona; or Meghan Redmond, of Chief Ivan Blunka School in New Stuyahok, Alaska, will be made in April.
According to the website of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, finalists are selected from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity and the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools. Finalists are chosen for their “exemplary efforts in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students.”
Bill Olsen, principal at RHS, was in Montpelier on Friday but shared some thoughts about Schillinger by email. Olsen called him an “excellent communicator” and an easy-going guy who connects well with parents and students.
“He is an enthusiastic supporter of all that our students do. He is always at games, events, concerts and he makes connections to students about their interests and what students want to learn in their classes. The students realize that he takes a sincere interest in their well-being, and that helps drive them toward success,” Olsen said.
On a recent Friday, while Schillinger was walking through the halls of the high school, many students greeted him in a friendly way.
Asked about the nomination, Schillinger shared the credit.
“I think it speaks to the work that the people here are doing. I realize it sort of has my name attached to it, but this is about the work that the teachers and the staff of Rutland High School are doing. I appreciate it, but if there’s anything worthy of note, it’s because of what those guys are doing,” he said.
Olsen shared a similar sentiment.
“He is simply an excellent teacher. We at Rutland High School are very proud of him because he represents the very good work and the commitment of all of our staff and our students. In a very real sense, this is a recognition of the efforts of the whole school community, of which Greg is a model representative,” Olsen said.
Schillinger has been at Rutland since 2014. He has lived and worked in Vermont for more than 20 years, most of it in Woodstock schools, where he was a principal for eight years.
At Rutland High School, he is one of three assistant principals along with Pamela Reed and Steve Sampson. He said his colleagues, the school board and Superintendent Adam Taylor provided support that helped him serve students.
Schillinger said he got an important piece of advice early in his career when a retiring educator told him there are three important things in education: your students, your students and your students.
The title of Vermont Assistant Principal of the Year is connected to the nomination Schillinger has now. Winning the state award automatically qualified him to apply to the national contest, he said.
Development officials in the Rutland area have often talked about how Rutland High School and its reputation is one of their recruiting tools for trying to attract new families to the area. Schillinger said he hoped the recognition would help those efforts.
Schillinger joked that he was told the winner of the contest will be announced in the first week of April, which is “National Assistant Principals Week,” a designation he didn’t know existed.
“When they told me that, I said, ‘I’ve been missing out all this time. I didn’t know there was one,’” he said.