At Madison Elementary in Wheeling, West Virginia, everything Principal Andrea Trio does centers around one key question: What is best for the students? Trio helps her staff create effective instructional practices by focusing on the whole child with a tiered system of academic, behavioral and mental health services. This is especially important for Madison’s high-need, highly transient community, where three-quarters of students live in poverty, a quarter have special needs, and many experience instability and trauma at home. Trio keeps personalized data about each student, updating it as they move from grade to grade, to provide supports and collaborate with middle school administrators. Instead of traditional exclusionary disciplinary practices like detention and suspension, Trio focuses on finding gaps and building skills with social-emotional learning strategies. Each classroom has a de-escalation space with materials to help students self-regulate, with trained “Cougar Care Team” staff members ready to step in if more help is needed. Trio has shared this innovative approach to discipline with other administrators in the district, reminding them that “suspension is no intervention.”
Trio has built strong partnerships with local organizations on Wheeling Island and throughout the region. At this year’s annual back-to-school event, 20 community partners provided students with school supplies and prizes. Sorority sisters from a nearby college and volunteers from local nonprofits mentor Madison students, interacting with both children and families. Madison’s outdoor play area used to consist of an asphalt lot surrounded by a chain link fence. Yet Trio envisioned a sustainable outdoor learning environment incorporating activities to boost academics, community building, conflict resolution and social skills. Working with the House of the Carpenter, a nondenominational nonprofit in Wheeling, Trio raised $250,000 to build a new “Cougars on the Move” playground, now the pride of the school. When the pandemic closed school buildings in 2020, Trio established a remote learning center where at-risk students could get meals, internet access, tutoring and support services. Before Christmas that year, she put together gift bags with mugs, hot chocolate mix and books; staff delivered the packages, taking the opportunity to perform wellness checks on students.
A former music educator, Trio often sings with students, providing calming moments in the children’s often-chaotic lives. She builds genuine, trusting relationships with families and adeptly communicates with families of all backgrounds. Trio’s focus on the whole child sets Madison students up for success. She keeps track of graduates and checks in on them as they move to middle school and beyond, inviting them back to Madison as role models when they graduate from high school. Madison’s motto is “Stronger Together,” a fitting description of the ties Trio builds among students, families, staff and the larger community.
Trio earned a bachelor’s in music education in 2005 from West Virginia University and a master’s in educational leadership in 2014 from Hood College.
"You all sitting on the floor, you know how much I love you, right? I have to thank you for believing in me, because you are the..." (read more)
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2014 M.S., Educational Leadership, Hood College
2005 B.A., Music Education K-12, West Virginia University