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Receiving Award As Top in the State

March 28, 2019

TYNGSBORO -- Erin Sousa stood in Andrea Shortsianitis’ colorful classroom late Wednesday morning, a giant among second-graders.

The Tyngsboro Elementary School assistant principal smiled as Shortsianitis led her students through a few stretches before their math lesson. She joined in before sitting down at a desk to observe the teacher.

Sousa, of Nashua, is in her sixth year as assistant principal (from preschool to grade 2) at the school after working as a kindergarten teacher and as a preschool teacher in Tyngsboro for nine years. In her current role, she’s welcomed new students and families into the school community and helped guide teachers through technology integration. So savvy is Sousa, in fact, that she is jokingly called “Google Girl” by colleagues.

She’s now earned another title: Massachusetts Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year. The Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association (MSAA), which bestows the honor, recently notified Sousa that she was selected.

“It’s exciting. It really is. I keep saying it was surreal,” Sousa, 38, said earlier that morning from her office. “I just come to work every day and I love my job, and so it’s kind of just getting an honor for doing something that you love and you’re passionate about. It was unexpected.”

Sousa’s office is dotted with inspirational quotes and positive affirmations, including a board by the window that reads: “Start each day with a GRATEFUL HEART.” According to a release from the MSAA, Sousa has been instrumental in “supporting a school climate and culture of positivity by her warm and lasting relationships with faculty, staff and families.”

Sousa’s award will be presented in the district this spring at a date to be determined, as well as at the MSAA Summer Leadership Institute at the end of July, according to the MSAA.

She will represent Massachusetts as a National Outstanding Assistant Principal, sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

“I couldn’t think of somebody more deserving,” said Tyngsboro Elementary School Principal Kerry Ann Cavanaugh, who nominated Sousa for the award. “She does just about everything to make our school run smoothly.”

In her letter to the selection committee, Cavanaugh described Sousa as creative, innovative, and an exceptional educational leader.

Tries to be visible

Sousa said she tries to make sure she’s visible in the classrooms and have a trusting relationship with not only the staff, but students as well. She said she also works with families to try to build a connection.

“I bring all of me to work,” Sousa said. “Every day.”

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.