Argyle Middle School Principal James Allrich Featured in November Issue of Principal Leadership

Argyle Middle School principal James Allrich was featured in the November issue of Principal Leadership- a publication of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. His article, titled “Rebuilding School Community and Culture: The move to restorative justice,” is featured in the issue.

Allrich was named the 2023 Maryland Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals and was selected as the recipient of the 2022 Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision. He has been principal at Argyle Middle School in Silver Spring since 2015. He has spent the majority of his educational career in MCPS. Over the last 20+ years he has served as a high school math teacher, a staff development teacher and administrator. In 2015 he was appointed Principal of Argyle Middle School – a whole-school magnet middle school with over 1000 students and a staff of over 100.

More on James Allrich, per MCAAP: As a leader who puts students at the forefront of every decision, Mr. Allrich is constantly asking “What is best for students?”.  He articulates that being adaptive on a daily basis is important to meet the needs of students. Mr. Allrich firmly believes in the capacity of the whole staff to drive student outcomes. Colleagues shared that he can often be heard reminding staff, “If you want to go fast, go alone; If you want to go far, go together.”  Principal is not just a title for Mr. Allrich; he leads by example with passion and compassion. Staff shared that he empowers them to grow and encourages the creation of projects and betterment of the school, even if the ideas brought forward are different from what he had in mind.

Mr. Allrich is known for being a collaborative leader.  He is consistently willing to make time for students, parents, and staff to ensure they are heard. Many stories shared by students and parents demonstrate his approachability, accessibility, and relatability. Students describe him as a great principal who understands their struggles and opens their minds to all cultures. Parents shared that Mr. Allrich’s availability and responsiveness always makes them feel supported and connected to the school and staff.  Mr. Allrich played an integral part of working with the PTSA to enhance communication for parents through the establishment of Parent WhatsApp groups in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Vietnamese.  More than 200 families participate in the groups, enabling them to communicate with the school community more easily and with each other.

Mr. Allrich embodies what it means to be a great principal. He takes his responsibility for Argyle Middle School’s success personally and goes above and beyond for his staff and students every day. He is known as a leader who recognizes and fosters everyone’s potential. He challenges staff and students to grow and learn while also focusing on the overall well-being of the community. He is a fierce advocate for social-emotional instruction, equitable and anti-racist practices, and mental health support for everyone. He communicates with calm and strength during a period of unprecedented challenges.

As a result of his belief in a positive and inclusive learning environment, Mr. Allrich does not shy away from courageous conversations and has a vision for community building through restorative practices. He is an advocate for student achievement by providing access, opportunity and removing local and institutional barriers. He was instrumental in collaborating with his staff to come up with a creative approach for staff and students to have a voice and discuss equity issues through advisory circles. Staff shared that Mr. Allrich’s vision for student engagement and community building at Argyle Middle School has positively impacted the school in countless ways and makes him a champion for staff and students.

As a result of the partnerships Mr. Allrich forged with a multitude of organizations, many resources have been brought to the students and their families, – backpacks with supplies for every student at the beginning of the school year, iPads with unlimited data plans for each student, wellness activities including new exercise equipment for students’ physical education instruction and a new technology lab with cutting-edge technology.

His strong leadership and involvement extend beyond the school building.  Mr. Allrich serves on the MCAAP Board of Directors as Vice President of the Middle School Chapter, and he leads the Middle School Principal’s Professional Learning Community. He represents his colleagues on many district level committees within Montgomery County Public Schools.

The Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision recognizes and honors Mr. James Allrich for his outstanding accomplishments and looks forward to his continued contributions to excellence in educational administration.  As this year’s award recipient, Mr. Allrich will be honored by MCAAP/MCBOA and recognized at the Summer Leadership Conference on June 23, 2022. His name will be inscribed on the perpetual Shirley Award commemorative plaque prominently displayed at the MCAAP office.

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