Argyle MS Principal Wins Edward Shirley Award
James Allrich, principal of Argyle Middle School, is the 2022 recipient of the Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision.
This prestigious award, given by the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP), is presented annually to an administrator or supervisor who exemplifies outstanding leadership and accomplishments in purposeful leadership, instructional or systemwide leadership, human resources development, resource management, interpersonal skills, professional involvement, and community and stakeholder involvement.
Allrich has spent most of his educational career in MCPS. In 21 years, he has been a high school math teacher, a staff development teacher and administrator. In 2015, he was appointed principal at Argyle, a whole-school magnet middle school with more than 1,000 students and 100 staff members.
As a leader who puts students at the forefront of every decision, Allrich is constantly asking, “What is best for students?” He believes that being adaptive on a daily basis is important to meet students’ needs. Allrich believes in the capacity of the whole staff to drive student outcomes. Colleagues shared that he can often be heard reminding staff, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Principal is not just a title for Allrich; he leads by example with passion and compassion. Staff say he empowers them to grow and encourages them to develop projects that will better the school.
Allrich is known for being collaborative. He consistently makes time for students, parents and staff. Stories shared by students and parents demonstrate his approachability, accessibility and relatability. Students say he understands their struggles and opens their minds to all cultures. Parents shared that his availability and responsiveness always makes them feel supported and connected. Allrich played an integral part working with the PTSA to enhance communication for parents through the creation of parent WhatsApp groups in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Vietnamese. More than 200 families participate in the groups, enabling them to communicate more easily with each other and the school community.
Allrich goes above and beyond for his staff and students. He recognizes and fosters everyone’s potential. He challenges staff and students to grow and learn, while focusing on the overall well-being of the community. He is a fierce advocate for social-emotional instruction, equitable and anti-racist practices, and mental health support. He has communicated with calm and strength during the pandemic.
As a result of his belief in a positive and inclusive learning environment, Allrich does not shy away from courageous conversations and has a vision for community building through restorative practices. He is an advocate for student achievement by providing access and opportunity, and removing local and institutional barriers. He collaborated with staff to come up with a creative approach for staff and students to have a voice and discuss equity issues through advisory circles.
Allrich forged partnerships with organizations that have introduced a number of resources for students and their families—backpacks with supplies for every student at the beginning of the school year; student iPads with unlimited data plans; wellness activities including new exercise equipment for students’ physical education instruction and a new technology lab.
His strong leadership and involvement extend beyond the school building. Allrich serves on the MCAAP Board of Directors as Vice President of the Middle School Chapter, and he leads the Middle School Principals’ Professional Learning Community. He represents his colleagues on many district-level committees.
Allrich will be honored by MCAAP/MCBOA and recognized at the Summer Leadership Conference on Thursday, June 23.