A middle school principal from the Hudson Valley was named New York State’s best middle school principal.

Charles Tadduni, the principal at Rondout Valley Junior High School in the Rondout Valley Central School District, was selected as the 2018 New York State Middle School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).

The award is given each year to a member that has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school, officials say.

Nominees are administrators who are committed to the students, families, and staff in their learning communities and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.

“Charlie’s caring nature towards everything work-related, and his goal of having Rondout Valley become recognized as a higher achieving school is evident by the positive environment that he has created,” senior crisis counselor David Mahoskey, Jr. said.

Tadduni was nominated by a large team of faculty, staff, parents and students, who call Tadduni an exceptional visionary and compassionate leader.

“Tadduni is tireless in his support of all students,” special education teacher Ashley Woodill said. “He proves time after time, that he believes in providing all students on all levels with the opportunity to access and excel in public education.”

Rising poverty levels has raised the number of Rondout Valley Central School District students who receive free or reduced lunch from 20% to 50% in under five years, officials say.

To deal with that, Tadduni implemented several innovative programs. He facilitated a book study on “Teaching with Poverty in Mind” for the teaching staff to develop a greater understanding of the challenges that living in poverty has on the students. He wrote a grant to become a “Farm to School” building where they partner with local growers to utilize locally grown produce. The school also houses several gardens and a greenhouse, according to a press release.

Tadduni also developed a number of programs to help student’s deal with stress, which include mindfulness training and a yoga club after school and during recess.

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