Desi Nesmith is currently the Deputy Commissioner of Education at the Connecticut State Department of Education. At the time of the award, Desi was the principal of Metacomet Elementary School in Bloomfield Connecticut.
“What are we going to do to make sure every child succeeds?” This is not only the mantra that Desi Deon Nesmith uses to motivate his teachers and staff at Metacomet Elementary, but it’s also the driving force behind every decision he makes as the school’s principal.
For Nesmith, his job’s personal. As a former student of Metacomet who lived across the street as a child, he has a special history with the school. “I’m home!” he’s fond of telling the school community. And all the students are made to feel the same each morning as they step off the school bus and are greeted by Nesmith with handshakes, high-fives and words of encouragement.
Nesmith is the type of leader who’s in the trenches with faculty, working hard to make sure the instructional practices and curriculum are not only achieving results, but are also ensuring that every child’s needs are met. His success in closing the achievement gap serves as a model for other schools throughout the country. This success is due, in part, to his team’s practice of developing individualized learning plans for each student and using data to make corrections throughout the year.
Since he became principal, Metacomet has eliminated a third-grade achievement gap in reading by 19 percent, with reading scores currently exceeding the state average by 8.1 percent. Test scores in writing and math also are above the state average. Previously, Nesmith presided over the turnaround of SAND Elementary School, which went from being the sixth lowest performing school in Connecticut to being recognized in 2010 as one of the top ten improved schools.
Nesmith’s impact extends well beyond the campus. He is vice president of the Neag School of Education Alumni Association at the University of Connecticut and has spoken to members of Congress about services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
But Nesmith’s true gift may be his ability to inspire everyone he comes in contact with. “Mr. Nesmith was always there for me,” recalls a former student whom Nesmith taught and continued to mentor after he graduated. Now a scholarship student in college, he credits Nesmith for being there when it was most critical. “I want to make a difference in a kid’s life, like Mr. Nesmith made a difference in mine.”
“As educators, we shape the world. In order to do so we must continuously be lifelong learners ourselves. Those who are educated will..." (read more)
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