N.S. middle school’s Lopes named outstanding first year principal

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – A 21-year employee of the North Smithfield School District who became principal of the middle school last year was recognized this week by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals.

Christine Lopes was named Outstanding New Principal, an honor celebrated with an assembly at the school she has led since her appointment last January.

Lopes, a former sixth grade teacher, started with the district in 2002. She was a Golden Apple Award winner in 2016, and became assistant principal at the middle school in 2018, serving with the school’s first principal, the late John Lahar. She was named to the school’s top position following Lahar’s resignation.

Students and administrators celebrated the school leader waving signs and cheering on Monday, Feb. 6. Robert Littlefield of the Rhode Island Association of School Principals presented the award, given annually to one educator selected from nominations.

School Committee Chairman James Lombardi noted that while It is easy to measure how well schools perform academically, there is a lot more that goes into being successful middle school principal in 2023.

“You can have the highest performing school, but if your students aren’t arriving each day happy to be here, and if they aren’t leaving here every day feeling successful, are you truly successful?” Lombardi asked. “If your students feel unsafe, threatened, bullied, or harassed each day, how successful are you as an educator?”

“In the past eight years that I have had a child in this school, I have heard and experienced countless stories of how Principal Lopes has gone above and beyond to help each and every student,” Lombardi said. “She confronts situations professionally but also in a manner that reminds everyone that this is a school where every student can feel safe.” 

“This is a school where everyone is important, and every student has the support to thrive,” Lombardi said.

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