Mesquite Elementary Principal Wins National Education Leadership Award

SANTA FE — A New Mexico elementary school principal is one of eight school leaders nationwide to receive a prestigious education leadership award from the U.S. Department of Education.

The agency today named Mesquite Elementary Principal Angela Marie Silvaggio the recipient of the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership for 2021.

Mesquite is in the Gadsden Independent School District.

The award honors the principals of National Blue Ribbon Schools.

“Congratulations, Director Silvaggio! said Secretary of Public Education (designate) Kurt Steinhaus. “You have made all of New Mexico proud to be a shining light in our outstanding workforce of educators. The work you and your team have done at Mesquite Elementary has been noticed nationally.

Originally from Providence, RI, Silvaggio began her teaching career in El Paso, Texas before moving to GISD in New Mexico. She attributed the award to always treating students the way she would want her own children to be treated at school and surrounding herself with an administrative team that shares her vision.

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“All I could do was cry tears of joy. It’s a very humbling experience, but I’m very grateful,” she said upon learning of the award.

Silvaggio — who spoke to the Las Cruces Sun-News in September after Mesquite Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School – said morale was low across the board when she arrived at the school eight years ago.

“The first step was to build a positive culture,” she said.

Today, teachers are encouraged to make two positive calls to parents per week. Silvaggio says it’s to help build a stronger bond with families to show them that the school cares and that all interactions with the school don’t have to be negative.

“It’s not just for the best kids,” Silvaggio said. “It could be to a kid who failed a math test last week, but got a D this week. It’s the small wins that are celebrated.”

The other Bell Award recipients announced today by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona are:

  • Mary J. Anderson, Jacob C. Fruchthendler Elementary School in Tucson;
  • Christy Flores, Maude B. Davis Elementary School in Costa Mesa, Calif.;
  • Sonia Anna Flores, Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy in Gilroy, CA;
  • Mardele Simmons Early, Lake Forest Elementary Charter School in New Orleans;
  • John Robert Gibbons, Weston Middle School in Weston, Massachusetts;
  • Elisa Brown, PS 249 – The Caton School in Brooklyn, New York
  • Sophia Acevedo, Calder Road Elementary School in Dickinson, Texas

They will be honored, along with the 325 national blue ribbon schools, at an awards ceremony Nov. 4 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC.

Janice G. Ball