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Boston Public Schools' Julia Bott Named Massachusetts Elementary School Principal of the Year

Mendell School Principal Honored for Fostering Inclusive Community

BOSTON — Tuesday, May 11, 2021 — Principal Julia Bott of the Ellis Mendell School in Roxbury has been named the 2021 Thomas C. Passios Elementary Principal of the Year and the National Elementary School Principal (NAESP) of the Year by the Massachusetts School Administrators Association (MSAA).

Principal Julia BottThe program annually recognizes elementary school principals who demonstrate exemplary skills in instructional leadership, supporting a safe learning environment and fostering a collaborative culture of shared decision-making among all members of their school community.

“Boston has been called the City of Champions because of our winning sports teams, but there are so many unsung local heroes that embody that same winning spirit each and every day," said Mayor Kim Janey. “BPS is home to world-class educators and administrators. I am elated to know the 2021 MSAA Elementary School Principal of the Year award belongs to one of our very own school leaders. Principal Bott reflects Boston's core values in her school community by advancing the educational rigor, collaboration, and achievement our great city is known for. I congratulate Julia and the entire Mendell School staff for their hard work and dedication on behalf of our students and families.”

Mrs. Bott is currently in her eleventh year leading the Ellis Mendell School, a full-inclusion elementary school in Roxbury, where she proudly serves a racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse student body in grades K0/K1 through five. She is completing her 20th year in the Boston Public Schools (BPS), where she previously worked as an early childhood educator, program director, and Assistant Principal at the Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston. Mrs. Bott is a two-time graduate of Boston College, earning a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Educational Administration, and a degree in Moderate Special Needs. She will also begin post-graduate studies to pursue a doctorate in Educational Leadership at Boston College this July. 

“I am so proud of Principal Bott. Her innovative approach to leadership and commitment to consistent communication with her school community, throughout the pandemic, in particular, has been a beacon of hope for the entire school and BPS at large,” said Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “Her work to provide inclusive and equitable environments in which her students thrive is admirable and aligned with the strategic vision of Boston Public Schools. Because of school leaders like Julia, we can confidently proclaim that BPS has some of the best talent in the Commonwealth. Julia goes above and beyond to promote the culture of inclusion, antiracism and excellence we foster throughout our entire district. Julia would say she’s lucky to have her students and staff, but they are just as lucky to have her.” 

Together with her team of dynamic educators, committed families, and amazing students, Principal Bott has collaboratively facilitated the Mendell’s transformation from an under-performing elementary school on the brink of “turn-around” status to a high-achieving, fully-inclusive school community that proudly embraces their shared values of inclusivity, excellence, and agency. For 11 years, she and her team of educators have worked together to cultivate a strong culture of inclusion reflected in their vision, values, structures, and, ultimately, collective identity. 

“Principal Bott has led the Mendell School tirelessly. It is no wonder to hear that she has been selected to receive such a prestigious award,” says Boston School Committee Chairperson Alexandra Oliver-Dávila. “Julia measures and monitors the achievement of each student, ensuring they have a solid educational foundation, regardless of their background. She is one of the many examples of amazing leaders who make a difference within BPS, and I join the School Committee in congratulating her on this honor and thanking her for her extraordinary leadership.”

The Mendell community successfully dismantled substantially separate settings which disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx students. Those students now access a fully inclusive model of teaching and learning where teachers are engaging in co-planning and co-teaching; students of all ability levels are engaging in standards-aligned, rigorous learning opportunities in the general education setting; and families are co-leaders and educators in the community.

“This work is far from done. Antiracism is a verb: a daily commitment, a choice we must make over and over again. Our community of learners will continue to work together to uproot and unlearn our biases and deepen our collective knowledge of culturally and linguistically sustaining practices. This benefits all students, but in particular, it centers the voices, ideas, contributions, and experiences of those communities that have been most profoundly impacted by historical marginalization: people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community,” says Mendell School Principal Julia Bott. “All students deserve to see accurate, affirming, strengths-based narratives of themselves in the curriculum. All students have a right to learn about and celebrate the multitude of their identities and those of their peers. All students must be equipped and empowered with the knowledge and skills to question and challenge inequities around them. Elementary school is not too early to start these conversations. It is exactly the right time.”  

Principal Bott will be presented with an award from the MSAA at their annual Summer Leadership Institute in July to celebrate her influence on the Mendell School community and the district at large.

In the last four years, Julia Bott is the third BPS school leader recognized as a top school administrator in the state. Former Michael J. Perkins Principal Craig Martin was named Elementary School Principal of the Year in 2018. Current BPS Secondary Schools Superintendent Lindsa McIntyre was named the 2019 High School Principal of the Year for her leadership of the Jeremiah E. Burke High School.

About the Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association

The Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association (MSAA) serves over 2,100 elementary, middle level and high school administrators in order to promote quality educational opportunities for PreK-12 students throughout Massachusetts.