Fresh out of college, a graduate the University of Rhode Island, Christopher Palmieri was searching for a career that would be both fulfilling and allow him an opportunity to make a difference in the community.
That’s when his mother, Joanne Palmieri, said the lifelong Southington resident had the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher in New Britain. As they say, the rest is history.
Palmieri, the 38-year-old assistant principal at DePaolo Middle School, was recognized by the Southington Board of Education last week as the 2013 Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) Assistant Principal of the Year, an award fitting of a man who has become one of the town’s most dedicated educators, volunteers and community leaders.
“He’s truly a one-of-a-kind leader and an icon in our schools and community,” said School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. “He brings a passion and dedication that has helped so many young people.”
Let Patch save you time. Get local news like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
Now in his eighth year as assistant principal at DePaolo, the CAS selection committee chose Palmieri for his insistence on high standards and his uncompromising dedication to his students and school community, Erardi said.
For Palmieri, the work isn’t about awards or recognition. Despite all the work he has done in the school, working with the town’s Park and Recreation Department and serving as a member of the Southington Town Council and other boards, he has never sought the spotlight.
If you ask Palmieri about his accomplishments, the first thing he will do is credit those around him for his success.
“I was humbled and honored, but (this recognition) isn’t possible without the staff around me,” Palmieri said. “It’s thanks to teamwork from everyone at the school and everyone is working together to do what’s best for our children.”
But it’s hard to deny the positive influence that Palmieri has had on the school community.
Palmieri first began his career in Southington as a teacher at Kennedy Middle School in 1997, later being named as the team leader in 2001. He also served as the district Headstart and ESY program director during the summers of 2003-2005.
In 2005, he was named assistant principal at DePaolo where he has a seemingly never-ending list of programs and accomplishments.
He has established several afterschool clubs and activities that promote increased student awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of the community and of one another. He oversees the DePaolo Leadership Program, the success of which he considers to be one of the proudest accomplishments of his educational career. The program, which involves more than half of the student body, teaches his students the values of community service, citizenship, responsibility and respect for others.
He also worked with the other middle school in town to establish a Unified Sports Program which pairs individuals with and without intellectual disabilities on sports teams for athletic training and skill building. Palmieri also serves his district in his role as the secondary schools Safe School Climate Coordinator and coordinator of the Teacher of the Year Committee.
“Through his own efforts and actions, Chris encourages citizenship and volunteerism; he works hard to model a serious, genuine commitment to others,” said Pamela Aldi, assistant principal at Kennedy Middle School.
If you ask Palmieri about his proudest accomplishment, he will tell you it’s the joint middle school theater program, which brings together almost 200 students from both DePaolo and Kennedy. The students are involved in all aspects of production, from acting to stage design, lighting and more.
“My goal was to promote teamwork and get the students on the same page,” he said. “Ultimately, they will all be working together at the high school, so this promotes unity.”
Joanne Palmieri couldn’t stop smiling when her son received the recognition Thursday, saying that although she and her husband always promoted civic responsibility, she never expected him to rise to the level he has.
“Chris has always been dedicated, but we couldn’t be any more proud than we are today,” she said. “We strived to teach service above self and Chris typifies that.”
Make sure to like Southington Patch on Facebook and follow on Twitter for breaking news, daily updates and more!