Nicole Ey, principal at Ellenville Elementary School in the Ellenville Central School District, has been selected as the 2022 New York State Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who is clearly committed to excellence, has programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students, and has firm ties to parents and the community.
Ey has made mental health a priority in her school. To meet her students’ health and educational needs, she established a CORE team consisting of a behavior analyst, two school psychologists, two social workers, two guidance counselors, and building administrators. The team’s daily task is to make sure students’ basic needs are met, particularly access to food and social and emotional support, which are key for their health, education, and well-being. She and her team are all on call to compassionately address student social and emotional learning and discipline.
Leaning on the collective wisdom of her staff, Ey worked to make the district’s response plan to the pandemic organized and understandable. Communication was already strong within the school and with students and parents. With the onset of the pandemic, the team moved to daily communications with every family to deal with the tension and alarm. Ey says her goal was to strengthen relationships with families so they would feel safe and engaged as everyone reshaped education in a digital mode.
Ey empowers her teachers and strives for a strong sense of community and resilience, which has been especially important throughout the past two years. As a result of her work, Ellenville Elementary was the first school in the district to open for in-person learning.
A new literacy program, a curriculum review process for math, and professional development for teachers in technology are all accomplishments benefited by staff and students at Ellenville Elementary under Ey’s leadership. She has also implemented a shift to small group, personalized learning that has been critical in addressing academic needs resulting from instructional challenges during the pandemic.
Jessica Mataraza, director of special education for the Ellenville Central School District, says Ey “goes above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure that the needs of each individual student in her building are taken into consideration. She works diligently, long after the school day has come to a close, to plan, reflect, and prepare for whatever may be ahead.” Mataraza adds that Ey’s “ continuous generosity, through ongoing displays, emails, weekly newsletters, and more, demonstrates her appreciation for the school community well beyond anything I have ever experienced before.”
Meredith Smith, Ellenville Elementary School’s Assistant Principal, refers to Ey as “principal extraordinaire.” Smith says that Ey “leads by example, exuding passion for excellence and learning, creativity that sparks imaginations, our very own cheerleader who always lifts us up.” Smith adds, “Mrs. Ey’s tireless energy and abiding dedication to everyone at Ellenville Elementary is the driving force of our lifeblood here and has deeply impacted staff, students, and families.”
Ey received an Advanced Certificate from LIU Post in Middletown, NY, her master of science in education from Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY, and her bachelor of science in education from Oswego State in Oswego, NY.