Julius West Middle School Principal Wins Mark Mann Award
Craig Staton, principal at Julius West Middle School, is this year’s winner of the Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award.
The award is presented annually to an MCPS administrator who has shown exceptional performance in promoting academic excellence, positive human relations and community outreach. He was honored with the award at the April 7 meeting of MCPS administrators and supervisors.
Staton, who has been an administrator at Julius West for 13 years, keeps student growth and achievement at the forefront of all his decisions. He encourages high expectations for all students; for example, he set the baseline goal GPA at 2.5 instead of 2.0 in school initiatives.
Staton frequently visits classrooms to observe instruction and follows up with feedback, support and encouragement for each teacher. In an effort to continue to find ways to support students, he developed a student-teacher mentoring program and an after-school homework club for students struggling to reach their academic goals. He also makes sure that students who have excelled are consistently recognized for their achievements, and supports groups such as the debate team and the National Junior Honor Society. He also backs schoolwide literacy through the Black-Eyed Susan reading program and annual poetry slam.
He has an open-door policy, and regularly encourages staff, students and parents to express their needs and ideas. He greets students by name as they enter the building each morning, and reinforces quality work and exemplary behavior during assemblies and morning announcements. His interaction with students does not end when students go home. Staton actively supports the school food bank, providing extra food for students to bring home on weekends, and the school holiday store, which provides free gifts for students to give parents and siblings.
He is an active participant in PTSA meetings and has collaborated on many events, such as Math Night, Family Fitness Night, the STEM Festival, the Back-to-School Gala and Dads Take Your Child to School Day. He encourages students to be active members of their communities through service and volunteer work and creates opportunities for them to be involved.
He also makes a special effort to spend time with each new employee to make their transition to the school seamless. He regularly meets one-on-one or in small groups with staff, and the positive relationships he’s built have resulted in one of the highest retention rates in the county.
“Mr. Staton has an exceptional vision of equity and academic excellence for our school,” Amanda Plunkett, content specialist at Julius West, wrote in support of Staton. “He has a huge heart for his students, and an unwavering commitment to their success as students and as people. Not only does he maintain and model this vision, he masterfully plans for development and growth among staff and students to encourage us all to rise to better versions of ourselves. He then sees these plans through with tenacity, care, support and integrity.”
A New Jersey native and alumnus of Bucknell University, Staton began his career as a counselor for at-risk youth, and also worked as a special education, social studies and computer applications teacher, instructional specialist and assistant principal.