Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo Principal Tom Sedore is applauded during an assembly at Spaulding High School on Friday after it was announced that Sedore was named principal of the year in Vermont.
BARRE — Tom Sedore has logged a lot of days at Spaulding High School over the past 26 years, but Friday was definitely one for the books.
“It’s pretty incredible,” Sedore said moments after one of the worst kept secrets in Barre — his selection as the 2013 recipient of the Robert F. Pierce Secondary Principal of the Year Award — was publicly announced at the conclusion of a student-run assembly.
Sedore wasn’t talking about the prestigious award that he’ll officially be receiving from the Vermont Principals Association during a July 30 ceremony. He’s known about that since April 1, and preferred to keep it, in his words, “low-key.” What moved Sedore was the audible avalanche of appreciation that accompanied the announcement — a display of “Tide Pride” that echoed in the Spaulding auditorium, brought students, faculty and staff — not to mention a few family members who were smuggled in just for the occasion — to their feet, and warmed his heart.
“I love these kids,” Sedore said. “I’m the luckiest man to be able to do what I’m doing in a place that I love.”
The feeling seemed mutual.
On an afternoon when temperatures were in the mid-70s, and two doors were the only thing standing between students and a week-long spring break, a surprising number of them stood in line to personally congratulate their soft-spoken principal. There were plenty of hugs and handshakes for a man who quietly preaches about the importance of pride every chance that he gets and did again on Friday.
“We need to be respected in Barre for who we are,” Sedore said during his brief time on stage.
The observation provoked a hearty round of applause from students who Sedore later said are buying what he’s selling.
“I tell you what, the kids are getting a lot more pride in the school and they want people to look at Spaulding not like they looked at it in the past,” said Sedore, who is unapologetically upbeat about Barre and its high school.
“We’ve been on the upswing,” he said. “Things are moving in a different direction.”
Sedore is only too happy to share the credit, which may explain why in two short years as principal he’s been nominated twice for the award he’ll be getting this year.
“I’ve got great people around me,” said Sedore, who was once one of them.
Hired as an English teacher in 1987, Sedore has been at Spaulding ever since. He left the classroom in 2005 to become one of the school’s two assistant principals, and when then-Principal Bob Phillips resigned in April 2011 he was hired to replace him.
Sedore settled right into the job — immediately earning praise from colleagues for his “collaborative” leadership style, “unmatched” work ethic, and integrity, and support of a school board that turned an interim arrangement into a two-year contract that is set to expire June 30.
Sedore isn’t going anywhere, and not just because his daughter Katie now teaches at the school, but because he wants to finish what he started.
“We have so much work to do and we’re just scratching the surface,” he said.
Still, initiatives like Spaulding’s “freshmen academy,” designed to ease the transition for first-year students and the Granite Academy — an alternative program for students with special needs — have proven successful. Sedore has been a tireless advocate for both, first as assistant principal and more recently as principal.
Assistant Principal Chris Hennessey was responsible for Sedore’s most recent nomination.
“He (Sedore) is a true transformational leader who is tough, fair and kind,” Hennessey wrote. “We are all honored and proud to be his colleagues.”
VPA Executive Director Ken Page, who attended Friday’s assembly, said he was impressed by an event that featured an unconventional “wet T-shirt contest,” a preview of coming attractions, a little bit of music, a little bit of poetry, a little bit of comedy and a whole lot of school spirit.
“Great kids and great schools don’t happen by accident,” Page told the crowd. “They happen because a lot of great people do a lot of wonderful things.”
Sometimes those things get noticed, and thanks to Sedore’s efforts, Page said, that is the case at Spaulding this year.
“This is a great win for Barre,” he said, noting the competition was stiff and the award was something for the entire school community to be proud of.
If Sedore has anything to say about it — and he no doubt will in a “low-key” way — that will most certainly be the case.
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