About the Principals

Principal: Michelle Hernandez
Assistant Principal: Tamera Sullivan-Daley

Pictured: Michelle Hernandez (left) and Tamera Sullivan-Daley (right)

Pictured: Michelle Hernandez (left) and Tamera Sullivan-Daley (right)

About the Principal, Michelle Hernandez

It is my sincere pleasure to be the principal at Fort River this year!   This is my fourteenth year in education. Prior to becoming principal, I had many leadership experiences including co-leading a turnaround school as assistant principal and dean of students with the Holyoke Public Schools. Prior to my leadership experience, I was a teacher with the Chicopee Public Schools.  

I completed my Bachelor of Education at Westfield University, my first Master's in Education at  American International College, and my second Master’s in Organizational Leadership at Endicott College.  I am a recipient of the Wayne Hamilton Award for Academic Excellence and a member of the National Honor Society. My first language is Spanish and I acquired the English language during my elementary years, so I identify as bilingual and biliterate (Saludos a todos).

My leadership philosophy is one that is centered on a culture of excellence, respect, and accountability by all.  Ensuring an equitable learning environment and opportunities for students needs to be at the forefront of our practice. I will work alongside all other educators to create the best-fit school and classroom systems, create meaningful relationships with all students and families, and ensure students are encouraged to engage in high-level academic work.  Together, we will collaborate and continue to create a school where you feel comfortable and where your child is proud to attend. My goal is to provide an education that will make your children successful now and in the future. 

By pursuing lifelong learning, I intend to be an example to students and teachers that we should never stop learning and that education is a lifelong process.  Most importantly, I bring a belief that our students are at the center of all school-related decisions.  I am excited to bring my experience, my openness to learn, and my child-centered approach to support all students.  Because the relationship between families and the school is vital to the success of our students, I encourage you to become involved in every way possible. 

My goal is to continue to provide a supportive climate and culture at Fort River that is conducive to teaching and learning. By doing so, each individual student and teacher can experience growth to their highest potential. I look forward to interacting with all stakeholders in our school community and a year of learning and relationship building.

 

About the Assistant Principal, Tamera Sullivan-Daley

My teaching and leadership philosophy is that  (1) Everyone is capable and distinguished  (2) The teaching and learning role is reciprocal (3) I embrace equitable practices in all facets of learning, while collectively and individually working against unfairness and bias.

All students are brilliant and capable learners. Mirriam-Webster defines brilliance as very bright, glittery; striking, distinctive; distinguished by unusual mental keenness or alertness.  Students, no matter their cognitive profile, language ability, socioeconomic status, race(s), gender identification, sexual choice, or emotional functioning are brilliant. Everyone is distinguished. Every student has distinctive, remarkable outcomes. As teachers, it is incumbent upon us to strip away the ideology and preconceived notions about what it means to be “brilliant” or “smart”  and consider that a student’s brilliance or distinguished abilities is their unique learning profile. To measure success we must know what our students' patterns of strengths and areas of refinement are so we can design curricula that remediates the differences all the while building on student strength.  When we consider all students brilliant, our lens is less filtered. We see students for who they can be without limitations placed on them. As such, we allow ourselves, as teachers, to be learners in collaboration with students. 

As a craftsperson in the field of teaching/coaching, I have worked with students with varying abilities and skills; every single student contributes to the learning atmosphere of the classroom.  One of the best ways to ensure that all students have a voice within the classroom and the curriculum is to build it from their interests and strengths.  Using hands-on experiences and considering access points for all, creates an atmosphere in which everyone is engaged and accountable. To further this practice, true teaching comes from collaboration. Collaboration is not limited to staff that work within the building, but community members, professionals, and people with similar interests and pursuits. Collaboration begins with the adults and must include students. Students and teachers are reciprocal learners and teachers in this paradigm. In this, we build lessons with each other because of each other and our pursuit for a just and anti bias learning environment. So, when we consider all students brilliant, our lens is less filtered so we see students for who they can be without limitations. As such, we allow ourselves, as teachers, to be learners in collaboration with our students.  

As a veteran teacher with over 21 years of experience, 18 of which has been at Fort River,  in both private and public schools, I bring an awareness of building strong relationships with students and staff as well as parents and community members. I am thrilled to continue to be part of the Fort River community serving the students, families, and community in a different capacity. I am looking forward to a new year filled with hope, learning opportunities, and many laughs along the way.