BETHLEHEM — Bethlehem Central Middle School assistant principal Mark Warford was named a 2020 New York State Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
“It really is an honor and I feel really good,” Warford said. “Naturally, I’m extremely fortunate to work in such a great district and supportive community.”
He was swift in crediting several colleagues too — including Gregg Nolte, BCSD’s director of facilities of operations, and Allissa Eiser, the district’s food services director. “Moving any initiative forward in a meaningful way is really a collaborative effort and there’s so many administrators and teachers who support my work on academic intervention, environmental issues and sustainability,” he added. “It’s a testament of the district and community, and I’m happy to accept it on their behalf.”
Warford has been an educator since 1995, including being a teacher in Guilderland’s Farnsworth Middle School for seven years. Since attaining his current position in 2008, he became involved in numerous programs and initiatives, like GROW (goal setting, responsibility, organization and work ethic). He said it provides academic support for students who struggle with time management and organization.
“GROW uses our teaching staff and teachers’ aides to really help kids structure their days and remind them that work needs to be completed,” Warford said. “It helps kids who fall through the cracks and it’s not necessarily just for kids with special needs.”
BCMS Principal Michael Klugman recognized Warford’s efforts and said, “He maintains the highest expectations of all students, and works tirelessly alongside teachers to demonstrate to students what their potential is and how they can reach it.”
Warford also founded the Green Team, a districtwide committee that promotes sustainability and environmental initiatives. It helped develop a small farm in the middle school which provides produce for district cafeterias, the Delmar Farmers Market and donates to the town’s food pantry. It ceased the use of disposable trays, plastic cutlery, non-reusable plastic straws and Styrofoam containers. It also encourages the recycling of paper, glass, batteries, highlighters and more.
“The big picture for education is to prepare our students for the future and give them tools and knowledge to solve problems,” Warford said. “Some of the biggest issues this generation will face are environmental and sustainability problems. So, it’s important that what we do can prepare them for the future.”
While the awards ceremony has been postponed from May to the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Warford expressed gratitude for the recognition for now, “I’m just very thankful for the district and the community. I’m very pleased.”