SEYMOUR — Ernie DiStasi, assistant principal of Seymour Middle School, has been named the 2017 Connecticut Association of Schools Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year.

The winners are chosen by the CAS Awards and Recognition Committee, a selection committee consisting of active and retired principals and assistant principals.

Good-natured and upbeat, Mr. DiStasi’s love for his school and community is earnest and ever present.

His infectious enthusiasm and cheerful presence are renowned in the classrooms and corridors of SMS.

“Everyone is excited to work with Ernie. He always presents to his students, staff and families as positive and upbeat,” said Superintendent Christine Syriac. “His warm smile, wonderful laugh and approachable manner ensure that SMS is always a welcoming place.”

A lifelong resident of Seymour and proud alumnus of the local school system, Mr. DiStasi is universally loved and respected, as evidenced by the fact that seven members of the SMS staff nominated him for the award.

“Ernie knows so many people in the town and is looked up to as a positive force by everyone in the school and the larger community,” said Ms. Syriac.

“I am honored to have been selected by CAS for this award, and am truly grateful to my staff, the Seymour School District, and the greater Seymour community for supporting me throughout my career,” said Mr. DiStasi.

Mr. DiStasi’s tenure at SMS has been distinguished by his efforts to connect students and adults both inside and outside of school. In 2014, he launched the Bound for Success Program, a mentor program for students on the cusp of success, which he considers to be the proudest accomplishment of his educational career. The program pairs an elementary or middle school student with a community member who serves as a role model and adviser.

Mentees and mentors meet weekly and develop bonds that benefit both parties.

“Ideally, the mentors and mentees stay together through high school and are bound together to achieve successful outcomes as a product of their relationship both within the classroom and outside of the classroom,” said seventh grade mathematics teacher Allison Acquavella. Under Mr. DiStasi’s leadership, the program has flourished, with more than 20 mentors currently working with at-risk students in the district.

Thanks to this and other programs initiated by Mr. DiStasi to promote student-staff connectedness, SMS’s end-of-the-year climate survey showed that more than 93 percent of students felt comfortable going to an adult when facing a problem, which was a significant increase from the previous survey.

Assistant principal at SMS since 2012, Mr. DiStasi juggles myriad roles and brings a high degree of professionalism and energizing leadership to all.

While skillfully managing the tasks of student discipline, teacher evaluation and staff development, he still finds time to implement new programs, review and revise existing curricula, advance technology and strengthen the bond between the school and community. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the School of Education at the University of Bridgeport.

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