Benjamin Harrington has been named Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Outstanding Vice Principal of the Year for 2018. Harrington served as the vice principal of Dr. James Craik Elementary School from 2014 to 2018. He will be the principal of Arthur Middleton Elementary School starting in September.
“He is a bright, personable, energetic and mature person with a concrete, ongoing, well-rooted interest in teaching and learning,” Craik Principal Michelle Beckwith said. “Mr. Harrington is a consummate professional who is dedicated to our parents, students and staff, and goes above and beyond his job description.”
Harrington graduated from Canisius College in Buffalo with a bachelor of science in special/childhood education and earned his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from McDaniel College. He began his career with CCPS at the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center as a special education teacher in the STAY program. From there, he worked as a special education teacher at J.P. Ryon Elementary School, then Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School. He was the administrative assistant at Berry Elementary School for a year before moving in 2014 to the vice principal position at Craik.
After high school, Harrington had thoughts of joining the military until he began working at the YMCA in an afterschool program. He found he had a head for working with kids and motivating them. He also had a knack for communicating and connecting with parents. After college, he moved to Charles County to be with his wife and high school sweetheart, Tricia, a special education teacher at Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary School. After being in the classroom for a while, Harrington moved to an administration track and realized he could make a bigger impact through supporting other staff members. “I love seeing others succeed,” he said. “In the end, it’s about doing what’s right and what’s best for kids. If you’re not all in, it’s not worth doing.”
Along with supporting teachers, Harrington makes himself available to students, at times clocking four miles per day moving around the school, in and out of classrooms.
“He has provided our school with great support and fantastic ideas to help with the school’s growth,” said fifth grader Ava Rowledge, in a four-page, handwritten letter in support of Harrington’s nomination. “Mr. Harrington has great leadership skills. He can take control when needed if things get out of control. But, most importantly, he shows great education leadership to everyone in our school’s learning community.”
At Craik, Harrington implements strategies to improve teaching through effective programs, involves teachers and staff in achieving the school’s goals, and ensures the school is a positive place that reflects high staff and student morale.
“He makes everyone feel important,” said first-grade teacher Erin Amore. “He cares and it shows in the faces of the staff and students at Dr. James Craik Elementary.”
“Mr. Harrington instills in both the staff and students a desire to continue learning, challenge themselves and achieve great things,” said Holly Michael, a special education teacher at Craik. “He makes students and staff feel welcome with his inviting personality. Mr. Harrington’s demeanor creates a school atmosphere of inclusivity and teamwork.”
Harrington helps resolve complex problems by maintaining awareness of current and emerging issues, resolving short-term issues while balancing them against long-term objectives, managing his time and tasks effectively, and using technology to address educational issues and situations.
“He has proven himself to be a great problem solver,” said Zarina Ameen, school counselor. “He has become a valuable and trusted resource as a CCPS colleague.”
Harrington is an administrator and teacher, but should be first viewed as an outstanding leader, said Katelyn Dexter, a third-grade teacher at Craik. “He creates a culture of collaboration in which staff members work together as a professional learning community to promote student learning.”
Harrington will be honored by the Board of Education at its June 12 meeting.
“Mr. Harrington is one of the best vice principals this school has ever seen. He is hardworking, organized, smart and [has] many other qualities that make up the phenomenal vice principal that he is,” said Liam Andres, a fourth-grade student. “Every school should have a vice principal like him.”
Harrington will take the helm at Arthur Middleton in July, while Lou D’Ambrosio moves to Berry Elementary School. Harrington visited Middleton to get the “lay of the land” and talk with D’Ambrosio about the school. “When a leader walks out of a building, they want to leave it even stronger,” Harrington said. “I’m looking forward to continuing on and building on things.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.