WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today met in Washington, D.C. with Dr. David Ellena, Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Midlothian, Va., and the 2018 Virginia Principal of the Year. The recognition is given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals to outstanding middle and high school principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.
Dr. Ellena earned the recognition as 2018 Virginia Principal of the Year for his innovative intervention program for struggling students. The system involves administrators creating a biweekly report of students with Ds and Fs, meeting with each student individually, and then establishing a study and organization plan moving forward. The program has helped reduce the number of failures at Tomahawk Creek Middle School and assisted in severely limiting the number of retentions in each grade level. Dr. Ellena also spearheaded the development of a makerspace at Tomahawk Creek Middle, where students have designed and 3D-printed everything from prosthetic hands to drones. His commitment to project-based and service learning enhances students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills, and further enriches their educational experience.
“Guiding our students and ensuring they are equipped with all the tools to succeed is no small task. Educators who go above and beyond to help all students achieve academic excellence – like Dr. Ellena – deserve not only our gratitude, but our full support,” said Sen. Warner. “I was glad to have the opportunity to hear directly from such an outstanding administrator about the ways the federal government can make sure teachers everywhere have the resources they need to help students thrive inside and outside of the classroom. Congratulations to Dr. Ellena for earning this well-deserved recognition.”
Dr. Ellena has been in public education for more than 30 years. He started as a physical education teacher in 1985 and has served as principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle for five years. He is active in the Virginia Association of Secondary Schools Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, having served on the board of directors for both organizations.
“It’s wonderful to be able to speak with legislators like Sen. Warner to make sure we’ve got the resources we need and that our kids need, especially the kids who need it the most,” Principal Ellena said. “We’ve got 12 middle schools in Chesterfield, and it’s so important that we have federal support for special education, teacher recruitment and training, and well-rounded education that includes arts, social sciences, and STEM education.”