Meriden Public Schools

Meriden Educator Daniel Crispino Wins National Terrel H. Bell Award

Daniel Crispino, the former principal of John Barry School, is one of just 10 principals in the United States to be named a 2019 Terrel H. Bell Award winner. The announcement comes just a month after the school won the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for 2019.

“Collectively, students, staff, families and the entire school community demonstrated the work ethic, perseverance, passion, and resolve to turn around a failing school into a National Blue Ribbon award winner,” Crispino said. “It is because of the support from Dr. Benigni, the Board of Education, Meriden Public Schools and the Barry community that I was selected as one of only 10 Terrel H. Bell Award winners in the entire country. I am honored to be chosen as a way to bring awareness that when everyone commits to a common goal, anything could be achieved.” 

The awards were announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Wednesday and awardees will be honored during the National Blue Ribbon Schools awards ceremony on Nov. 14 in Washington, D.C.

Crispino has since been promoted to Director of School Leadership, supervising all eight elementary schools in the city.

“Bell awardees are truly extraordinary people,” DeVos said in a prepared statement. “These principals are models of transformative leadership, capable of articulating — and realizing —a vision of school as a community where every student and every adult thrives through learning. They are also skilled communicators who convey faith in the ability of students and staff to rise to high expectations.” 

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education announced that John Barry had won the National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for 2019, one of four schools in Connecticut, and 362 overall, to receive the honor. The school was selected as an exemplary achievement gap-closing school.

“This is a great honor for Dan, the Barry community, and the Meriden Public Schools,” stated Superintendent Mark Benigni. “Dan led with inspiration, compassion, and excellence.  By insisting on quality teaching and learning, supporting his teachers and engaging the families, Dan built a school community that insisted on success and beat the odds.”  

Ten years ago, John Barry School was at risk of a potential takeover by the state Department of Education due to poor test scores.  

School officials and Crispino worked closely with students to improve attendance, technology skills, and student-centered learning. They also collaborated with neighborhood families to invest in their students’ success.

“It’s important to me that the families know that,” Crispino said last month.

The efforts brought about improvements in test scores, some rivaling other elementary schools outside the city.  

From the first day he joined the John Barry community, Crispino was convinced that collectively they would "Beat All Odds" and achieve what was once thought to be impossible, he said.  

By Mary Ellen Godin, Record-Journal staff