“You guys are my pride and joy. Every day, the best part of my day, no matter what issue is happening, is spending time with the students,” stated an elated Mr. McNamara in front of his colleagues and students.
On Wednesday, April 24th, Mr. McNamara was officially awarded the Rhode Island Principal of the Year award in front of his colleagues and cheering LHS seniors and juniors. Mr. Mac is the first LHS principal to ever receive the award.
Wednesday morning proved to be an interesting one, as the festivities—which would involve everyone in the building—started early and ran through a good chunk of the day. At around 9:15, Mr. Cobb officially announced to the students once Mr. Mac left the building that Mr. Mac had won the prestigious award. After another half-hour of class, the setup began, and the rest of Period D was filled with students and teachers roaming the hallways, trying to organize the freshmen and sophomores alongside the hallways to form a tunnel for Mr. Mac.
From there, all the students had to do was wait. After a long moment of anticipation, Mr. Mac finally walked into the school- and, much to his surprise, hallways filled with his students cheering for him greeted him in response.
The gym was filled to the brim with students; some holding up signs in a similar fashion to Mr. Mac’s famous Positive Sign Thursdays to congratulate the principal. Facing the door was a group of students holding up different signs made by Mrs. Kolenda spelling out “Congratulations!”
As superintendent Larry Filippelli pointed out, the only thing missing from the awards ceremony was Mr. Mac’s beloved bulldog, Mabel. The gym was filled with LHS staff, students, and administration, and as Joseph Goho pointed out, the mutual love in the room between Mr. Mac and the students, faculty, and administration was immediately evident and testament to how good of a principal he has been.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the setup was that it was entirely kept a secret from Mr. Mac. Mr. Mac said following the ceremony that he had no idea that he was receiving the award. He only knew something special was happening after seeing the freshmen and sophomores lining the hallways- but he had no idea that he won the award until he entered the gym.
Throughout the acceptance ceremony, many different people who have worked with Mr. Mac throughout his career were invited to stand up and give a speech about him. One thing pointed out often by student council president Lily Jacobson and senior class president Brett Bessette was the great rapport Mr. Mac has built with the students at LHS.
“Mr. Mac knows nearly every name in the hallway, and always makes an effort to check in with those that he knows could use a bit of encouragement,” Bessette stated.
“The rapport he has built with the entire student body is shown when he walks through the hallway, offering greetings to students as he passes by,” Jacobson added on.
Many speakers agreed, but lots of others focused on him leading by committee and his decisions in helping the school through a tumultuous year filled with construction on school grounds and NEASC accreditation.
“Mr. McNamara has accomplished an incredible amount this year. He’s been an excellent principal for many years, but this year, he’s accomplished an incredible amount. If he didn’t win the award this year, they may as well have retired it,” Joseph Goho commented.
“I’ve known Kevin for many years, for his entire time here at LHS, and it couldn’t have gone to a more deserving educator who puts students first,” former superintendent Georgia Fortunato said.
After many more speeches from the esteemed people Mr. Mac has worked with, Dr. Filippelli invited him to “rise up” and deliver an acceptance speech. Throughout his acceptance speech, Mr. Mac stayed humble, and deflected a lot of the praise he received to the people he works with every day.
“This isn’t about Kevin McNamara. This is about the community of Lincoln and what we have built,” he said to a cheering crowd.
Ultimately, it was the community that nominated Mr. Mac for the award that he was most thankful for.
“I just want to say thank you to the town of Lincoln,” Mac said. “I came here twenty years ago and I think I’ve given my all to the town and the town has given their all for me.”
In an entire gymnasium filled with people cheering, the proudest of all was Mr. Mac’s mother.
“The privilege to be Kevin’s mother and the gift he has been to both his father and myself has made us both so grateful,” she stated.
Mr. Mac also acknowledged both of his parents proudly, saying “This award does not happen without my mom and my dad. This award does not happen without mentors and friends that give you advice when you need it.”
Mr. Mac is now in consideration for the National Principal of the Year award. However, in the meantime, Mr. Mac can rest on the laurels of this well-deserved accomplishment. In the words of English department chair Mr. Schofield, he is truly the leader that bleeds Lincoln Lion red, white, and blue.
This was written shortly following the ceremony for Mr. Mac in April of 2019, which I held a role in setting up. In addition, the quotes were live-tweeted by myself on the The Lion’s Roar twitter account.