2004 National Distinguished Principals
NDPLaurel A. Telfer
Rossmoor Elementary School
Los Alamitos Unified School District
Los Alamitos, California

As principal at Rossmoor Elementary School since 1990, Laurel Telfer takes pride in "earning a reputation as an effective listener, thoughtful problem-solver, and strong educational role model who will do what it takes to make things better for all students." Her effective use of communications has been a critical factor in greatly increasing parent and community involvement in her suburban Pre-K-5 school. It has also helped her to garner a great number of financial and material donations from local businesses and to recruit 200 volunteers each year. Telfer encourages her teachers to set high standards and to accept responsibility for the learning of all 624 students in the school, not just those in their own classes. After she led the staff in reexamining and making profound changes in Rossmoor’s student discipline policy, including consistent reenforcement of positive choices and conflict management strategies, there was a dramatic drop in disciplinary office visits. As a principal, Telfer caps a long and varied educational career that includes service as an elementary school classroom teacher in grades 1-6, elementary and high school learning specialist, staff development specialist, and coordinator of the district’s gifted and talented program. She earned her B.S. at the University of Southern California and her M.A. at California State University in Long Beach.

NDPKeith D. Elsberry
Manitou Springs Middle School
Manitou Springs School District No. 14
Manitou Springs, Colorado

One of Keith Elsberry’s first priorities after becoming principal of Manitou Springs Middle School in 1983 was to build an active parent volunteer program. "Parents were very apprehensive about coming into the building, let alone volunteering," he recalls. Today the urban school has been transformed into a place "where teachers, students, parents, and visitors feel they are safe and welcome." Elsberry was able to accomplish this transformation while overseeing the school’s transition from a junior high school to a middle school. Meeting throughout 1984 with staff and parents, he impressed on them an awareness and understanding of the middle school philosophy and its benefits for preadolescents before launching a "skeleton program" the following year. As a result of the changeover, which continues to be "tweaked" a bit every year, the 330 students in grades 6-8 at Manitou Springs "are able to experience middle school life with a sense of enjoyment," says Elsberry. Another major achievement of his 21-year tenure is the "Dare to Dream" program that teaches eighth graders how to set and achieve goals. Elsberry received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Northern Colorado.

NDPMichael J. Galluzzo
East Farms School
Farmington School District
Farmington, Connecticut

"Ours is a respectful community!" says Michael Galluzzo. As principal of East Farms School for 17 years, he has worked closely with teachers, parents, and children to foster the social development of the 459 Pre-K-4 students at his suburban school. Monthly "RESPECT assemblies" reinforce the behavioral themes of Responsibility, Effort, Safety, Patience, Excellence, Caring, and Teamwork. The schoolwide gatherings include skits, storytelling, songs, and recognition for exemplary behavior. Over the past decade, Galluzzo has focused East Farms School’s academic goals, instruction, and staff training on rigorous local educational standards. As a result, student achievement levels have topped school and district records, and the performance gap for minority students has narrowed. East Farms School was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 1997 and also received national honors for outstanding professional development in 1999. A leader in efforts to increase learning opportunities for at-risk children, Galluzzo introduced "Good Start," a literacy program for pre-kindergarten children, and Kindergarten Acceleration for supplementary reading and writing support. He is proud of having nurtured his school’s cultural growth into a professional learning community, in which teachers work together to continually improve instruction and student learning. He holds a B.A. from Manhattan College in New York and two M.A. degrees from New York University.

AustinPete Basile
Star Hill Elementary School
Caesar Rodney School District
Dover, Delaware

"When I came to Star Hill, people judged the school on where we were located, not who we were or what we did," says Pete Basile, reflecting on his arrival as principal of Star Hill Elementary School in 1997. Located in a predominately black neighborhood, the rural K-5 school has built strong ties to the community under Basile’s leadership. By establishing a trusting school climate, in which the staff and 470 students have become like an extended family, Basile created a foundation for continuing academic success. The most challenging and rewarding experience of his principalship was supervising a complete renovation of the Star Hill site into a state-of-the-art facility. But even during the hectic two-year period of construction, when classes were held at three different locations, staff and students stayed focused on learning, and academic achievement never lagged. In 2002-2003, Star Hill Elementary was recognized as a superior school by Delaware’s education department for meeting all of the federal No Child Left Behind criteria, including outstanding teaching practices and extracurricular programs. Basile has a bachelor’s degree from Fairmont State College in West Virginia and a master’s degree from West Virginia University.

NDPSadia M. White
Harriet Tubman Elementary School
District of Columbia Public Schools
Washington, District of Columbia

"Students are reminded daily that the ‘Tubman Way’ is the best way," says Sadia White, describing her urban school’s creed: "The harder you work, the smarter you become; the harder you work, the more successful you will be. Respect yourself, respect the adults, respect your classmates, respect the environment, and be a good neighbor." In her four years as principal of Harriet Tubman Elementary School, which educates 568 students from preschool Headstart children through sixth grade, the school has met all its goals for standardized test scores. White supervised the effective launch of an inclusion model that features team teaching by general education and special education teachers, as well as teachers who specialize in working with limited- English-speaking students. She also instituted a comprehensive schoolwide discipline program at Tubman that includes a system of due process for punishment referrals as well as intervention strategies that teachers can use in the classroom to prevent problems. The program emphasizes instilling behavioral changes in students by using a positive approach. White earned her B.S. at the District of Columbia Teachers College and her M.A. at the University of the District of Columbia.