Rhode Island First Year Principal Award

As part of its continuing efforts to recognize and celebrate outstanding educational leadership, the Rhode Island Association of School Principals annually honors the “First Year Principal” in the state. RIASP established this award in recognition of the excellent work done by those new to the principalship.

Superintendents, central office administrators, principals, other building administrators and teachers may nominate for First Year Principal.

A RIASP selection committee will review all submitted documents and select two finalists.  The selection committee will conduct site visits to the finalists’ schools in late November/December.

RIASP Accepts Nominations in December Each Year

 First Year Principal of the Year 

All nominees must meet the following criteria:

RIASP member currently, and having had been a member for one (1) full year 

Principal for one (1) complete year

Nominees would therefore currently be active principals, and in their second full year.

Letters of nomination may be emailed to Robert Littlefield at rlittlefield@riasp.org.  The one to two page letter of nomination should reference the candidate's leadership capacity, and at least one particular accomplishment achieved during their first full year.    

A RIASP selection committee will review all completed nomination packets.  At least two (2) finalists shall then be identified.  For validation purposes, the selection committee will then conduct school visits, and shall ultimately select the Rhode Island First Year Principal of the Year. 

Finally, if you are aware of an outstanding First Year Principal, please do not hesitate to nominate them.  The sooner the better.  The deadline for submitting nominations is UPDATED EACH YEAR.  Send letters of nomination to Robert Littlefield at rlittlefield@riasp.org.  



2009 - Gail Dandurand - Narragansett Elementary School

2010 - Steven Morrone - Ashaway Elementary School

2011 - Janet Lyons - Austin T. Levy School

2012 - Lori DeSimone - Greystone Elementary School

2014 - Kathryn Tancrelle - Hopkins Elementary School

2015 - Michaela Keegan - Juanita Sanchez Education Complex

2016 - William Black - West Broadway Middle School 

2017 - Jennifer Daigneault - Halliwell Elementary School 

2018 - Mark DeCiccio - Samuel Slater Middle School 

2019 - Maryann Crudale - Frenchtown Elementary School 

2020 - Brian Gilmore - Birchwood Middle School

2021 - Chip McGair - South Kingstown High School

2022 - Frank Galligan - Warwick Neck Elementary School

2023 Outstanding New Principal

Ms. Christine Lopes

North Smithfield Middle School


 RIASP executive director Bob Littlefield presenting First Year POY Award to Christine Lopes, North Smithfield MS

About FYPOY Christine Lopes:  It is not all that common for an educator to grow from beginning teacher to principal all in the same school but Ms. Lopes did just that. She started as a special educator in what was then North Smithfield Jr/Sr High School and moved next door when the new Middle School was constructed. Over the years she grew to become a teacher leader, an assistant principal, and principal during the 2021-2022 school year. The NSMS community knew they were getting an outstanding educator as their leader - she had been named district Teacher of the Year in 2012 and was recognized by local news station Channel 10 to receive a Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Ms. Lopes is a strong believer that in order for students to achieve at their highest levels the school culture must be positive, inclusive, and caring. She exemplifies the motto she proudly wears on her sweatshirt: Be Kind.  Her kindness extended to students, teachers, parents, and community members seems boundless. She is an advocate that all students can learn and encourages her students and teachers to get the most out of every school day. With one eye constantly on achievement data she strives to close achievement gaps and her efforts have been met with considerable success.

She earned her Bachelor's degree in elementary education from Rhode Island College and her Master's degree in school leadership from Providence College.


© 2015 Rhode Island Association of School Principals

Rhode Island Association of School Principals is a 501(c) 6 Non-Profit Organization



401-272-9811 ext. 2 

Robert E. Littlefield, Executive Director 

Cheryl Iiams, Adm. Asst. 

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