NJPSA Announces Visionary Award Winners

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The New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2014-2015 Visionary Leadership Awards.


Emil Carafa, principal of Washington School in Lodi, was named Visionary Leader of the Year, Elementary Level Principal; Deidre Ortiz, principal of Quibbletown Middle School in Piscataway, was named Visionary Leader of the Year, Secondary Level Principal; Milissa Dachisen, vice principal of Oxford Central School, was named Visionary Leader of the Year, Secondary Level Assistant Principal; and Traci Shaw, building supervisor in Freehold Township, was named Visionary Leader of the Year, Supervisor/Director. Each will receive his/her award at the NJPSA Fall Conference at the Ocean Place Resort in Long Branch, NJ in October.


In addition to his duties as principal at Washington School, Emil Carafa has been a leader in the educational community, serving as a board member and past president of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA). In addition, he served on the Educator Leaders’ Cadre for Common Core and PARCC, which helped him turnkey transitions that had to be made in order to change instruction. An instructional leader who spends a great deal of time in the classrooms, Emil focuses on the culture and climate of his school to ensure that parents, teachers, and students are involved in the conversation to bring the necessary changes to improve student achievement.


As the principal at Quibbletown Middle School, Deidre Ortiz instituted a new period into the school schedule call WIN (What I Need). During this time, students who need extra academic support during the day can create and execute learning plans for themselves. Teachers can use this time to meet with students who are experiencing difficulty in a particular area, and then develop a learning plan in consultation with school counselors, parents, teachers, and students. Following the implementation of WIN, the 2012-2013 New Jersey School Performance Report rated Quibbletown as “high when compared to schools across the state.” Quibbletown has also significantly narrowed the achievement gap over the past several years. 


Milissa Dachisen serves as the vice principal and director of special services at Oxford Central School in Oxford. Milissa has spearheaded two campaigns to raise awareness for Autism and Down Syndrome, which led to the Oxford School being recognized as a National School of Character as well as receiving many other awards. Beginning by helping the students understand the challenges of those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the initiative expanded into an event called “All Together for Autism,” attended by hundreds of Warren County residents to raise money for Autism Speaks and Autism NJ. She was then able to bring in the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program and initiate a new schoolwide program to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness.


Since joining Freehold Township in 2008, Traci Shaw has led the effort to build and sustain a vibrant, flourishing professional culture and climate at the Catena School, which was recognized in 2011 as a National School of Character and in 2012 with the Promising Practices designation for addressing character education. Traci is responsible for providing high-quality professional development to Freehold teachers, which has positively impacted the education of thousands of students through her work pertaining to instructional best practices. She is also dedicated to building morale among the staff by steadily working with all staff members to keep spirits strong and ready for new and upcoming challenges.


In addition to these awards, Mr. Carafa is the New Jersey recipient of the NAESP National Distinguished Principal Award, and Ms. Ortiz is the New Jersey recipient of the NASSP/MetLife Principal of the Year Award.


NJPSA congratulates each of the 2015 Visionary Award Winners and proudly announces that each of the award winners will receive $5,000 for their school, as well as a personal check for $1,000.