October 12, 2005

Contact: Rosa Aronson, NASSP


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dr. Mel J. Riddile, principal of JEB Stuart High School in Falls Church, Virginia, today was named the 2006 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year.

Riddile received the award for demonstrating excellence in resolving complex problems, involving the local community in the school, and his consistent success in improving JEB Stuart High School’s overall learning environment. Riddile will receive $5,000 as part of his award.

“Mel Riddile looked critically at the needs of his school and determined that an innovative school-wide reading initiative was needed to improve over-all student achievement, raise SOL and SAT scores, and encourage more students, particularly minority students, to take more challenging, upper level courses. Successful implementation of such a program requires a school leader who fully understands the importance of involving staff, students, parents, and the community in any effort to improve the school environment,” stated Dr. Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director, NASSP. “With his boundless energy, data-driven, results-oriented decision making, exceptional ability to communicate, and his insatiable quest to increase student success, it is easy to see why Mel Riddile is a shining example of a professional who exemplifies the qualities of a dynamic educational leader.”

“We applaud the efforts of Mel Riddile -- a perfect example of how the strategic planning and hard work of a school principal can make a significant, positive impact on today’s students and America’s future,” said Michael K. Farrell, senior vice president, MetLife and head of MetLife Resources.

“Dr. Riddile sees his role as a personal advocate for each student in his care and believes strongly that all students can meet the highest of academic standards,” said Jack D. Dale, Superintendent of Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools. “He possesses the rare combination of outstanding leadership skills, professional versatility, a strong sense of responsibility, and practical wisdom.”

Arriving at JEB Stuart High School in 1997, Riddile has tirelessly worked with teachers and staff members to establish a school-wide sense of responsibility, trust, pride, and high achievement. His school improvement efforts have centered on proven best practices such as professional learning communities, personalization, and a rigorous curriculum.

One of his most significant achievements was the introduction of an International Baccalaureate (IB) program into the curriculum and JEB Stuart’s subsequent earning of the 2004 IB Inspiration Award. Riddle’s successful implementation of a school-wide reading initiative paid significant dividends in its first year even while facing the challenge of a school population that is two-thirds second language learners. The number of students reading above the 40th percentile doubled (26% to 52%) while the number of students reading below the 5th percentile decreased by 81%. As of the Spring of 2004, the results of the school-wide reading assessment continued to be impressive with 94% of the students passing the Reading and Writing SOLs on the first administration.

JEB Stuart’s award-winning reading program has become a national model that will be featured in a new publication entitled, Creating a Culture of Literacy: A Guide for Middle and High School Principals, that will be disseminated this Fall (courtesy of the Carnegie and Bill &Melinda Gates Foundations) to every public and private middle-level and high school in the nation. In addition, JEB Stuart High School has also been named a Breakthrough High School by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and NASSP. The schools recognized by this program are high poverty, high minority schools with high graduation, and high college acceptance rates. For further information, please visit

Riddile has been serving as the 2005 Virginia State High School Principal of the Year. He was one of three finalists selected from candidates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA).

***Photos and bios of the National and State Principals of the Year for 2005-2006 can be seen at

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The National Association of Secondary School Principals—the preeminent organization and the national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals and aspiring school leaders—provides its members the professional resources to serve as visionary leaders. NASSP promotes the intellectual growth, academic achievement, character development, leadership development, and physical well-being of youth through its programs and student leadership services. NASSP sponsors the National Honor Society™, the National Junior Honor Society™, and the National Association of Student Councils™.

MetLife Resources, a division of MetLife (Metropolitan Life Insurance Company), provides retirement plans and other financial services to healthcare, education, and not-for-profit organizations. MetLife, a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET) is a leading provider of insurance and other financial services to millions of individual and institutional customers throughout the United States. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife, Inc. offers life insurance, annuities, automobile and homeowner’s insurance and retail banking services to individuals, as well as group insurance, reinsurance and retirement and savings products and services to corporations and other institutions. Outside the U.S., the MetLife companies have direct insurance operations in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Europe. For more information, please visit