September 21, 2006

Contact: Shana Kemp, NASSP
Holly Sheffer, (MetLife) 


Washington, DC —  Jeryl (Jill) Martin, principal of Thomas B. Doherty High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been named the 2007 MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals National High School Principal of the Year. Martin has been principal of Doherty since 1999 where she has implemented several changes that have led to greater personalization of the learning environment, and subsequently, improvements in academic progress, attendance and a lower dropout rate.

Martin collaborated with her faculty and staff to begin several new programs, including a scheduled time for students to meet with a teacher or advisor to set goals, review and discuss academic progress, and plan for improvement. Martin says the change allowed students to assume responsibility for their learning and achieved widespread results. Student attendance has increased from 87 to over 91% average daily attendance. Ninth graders now have an average daily attendance rate of 94%, which is no small feat considering research has shown that many dropouts decide to do so at this level of education. Doherty's dropout rate has decreased from 3.2% to .88% during the 2004-2005 school year.

In addition to increasing student attendance and lowering the dropout rate, each year for the past three years Martin is offering additional sections of Honors classes and AP courses with the goal of opening and increasing enrollment. A program was also implemented to help capable, but under-achieving students, by equipping them with the skills necessary to succeed in high school, as well as attend and graduate from a four year college or university.

"Personalizing the learning environment is very important in a school's journey to excellence," said NASSP executive director Gerald N. Tirozzi, "Jill realized that if her students are to perform to their utmost ability, they need to believe that they can. A caring principal, faculty and staff are important parts of this equation and Jill has done an excellent job of bringing it all together. We commend her for her efforts."

Martin added a system called "Parent Connection" a device that allows parents to access their child's grades and attendance by computer or telephone. Doherty's goal for the 2005-2006 school year was 28,423 hits on the system. They reached the goal well before the end of the school year, registering over 28,000 hits in the first semester alone. Martin says while she is pleased with the response to the system, her "Goal Team" is working to develop plans to make all students and parents feel even more welcomed in the building.

"We applaud Jeryl Martin for her innovative methods to engage students and parents in the learning process," said Thomas G. Hogan Jr., Head of MetLife Resources. "Her efforts are helping students to realize their potential and are creating a brighter future for the community."

Sibyl Jacobson, senior vice president, MetLife Corporate Contributions, commenting on the program said, "The MetLife/NASSP Principal of the Year program underscores the critical role principals play in developing high performance schools that benefit all students. We are a proud sponsor."

Martin will be honored during an awards banquet on October 14th in Washington, DC. The search for the National Principal of the Year began in early 2006 as each state principal's association selected its State Principal of the Year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists. Then, a national middle level winner and a national high school winner are selected

The six finalists each receive a $1,500 grant. The two national award winners receive an additional grant of $3,500. The grants are used to promote the advancement of learning opportunities for students or other related investments such as capital improvements, the purchase of technology-related equipment, or funding specific educational programs.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals and MetLife are strongly committed to supporting the visions of unsung school leaders.  Each year the MetLife/NASSP State and National Principal of the Year programs focus attention on the outstanding work principals do in middle level and high schools across the country.  These individuals are recognized for their accomplishments as high-achieving principals, all the while making a daily investment in our children’s future.

For more information about the MetLife/NASSP State and National Principal of the Year programs and winners, please visit or call Kristine Rzewnicki at 703-860-7238.

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Celebrating 90 years of excellence in school leadership, NASSP is the preeminent organization and the national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals and aspiring school leaders. NASSP provides its members with 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 administers the National Honor Society™, National Junior Honor Society™, and National Association of Student Councils™.  For more information, visit

About MetLife
MetLife Resources, a division of MetLife, 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