On March 30, 2022

KES principal named principal of the year

By Katy Savage

Killington Elementary School Principal Mary Guggenberger has been named principal of the year by the Vermont Principal’s Association.

Guggenberger said she got a call from VPA Executive Director Jay Nichols two weeks ago saying she was nominated and won.

Submitted
Principal Mary Guggenberger

“I was a little bit floored to tell you the truth,” Guggenberger said.

Guggenberger, 58, has been the principal at Killington Elementary School for seven years and has been in education for nearly 20 years, but Guggenberger said didn’t always see herself working with children. Guggenberger, a lifelong Vermonter, grew up in Leicester. She has a business degree from Lyndon State College and formerly worked in an accounting department. She also worked at Killington Resort for 10 years. She didn’t realize her love for teaching until she became actively involved in her own children’s education as a volunteer at Clarendon Elementary School.

“I fell in love with being with the kids,” she said.

Guggenberger went to the (former) College of St. Joseph and then became a teacher at Christ the King in Rutland in 2003, where she taught for nine years before becoming principal for three.

She took the helm at Killington Elementary in 2015.

Guggenberger has been recognized many times for her excellence in education leadership.

Christ the King was the 2015 recipient of the Innovations in Catholic Education award for technology under her leadership. Guggenberger accepted the award during a reception at the National Catholic Educators Association Convention in Florida. Christ the King was specifically recognized as a leading school for implementing exemplary, innovative programs to improve the teaching and learning of students, faculty, and staff.

Guggenberger now lives in North Clarendon, where her husband owns a cabinet making business, but she spends every day in Killington. She’s at school during the weekdays and skiing on the mountain on the weekends.

“I couldn’t imagine living far away from a ski area,” said Guggenberger. “I work and play in this community.”

She said her outdoor interests make her feel connected to the parents in the area.

“They like the same things that I like, they have the same values that I have,” she said. “I really do feel like I belong here.”

Windsor Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Sherry Sousa nominated Guggenberger for the recognition from the Vermont Principals’ Association in December. Three teachers sent letters of reference as well as a School Board member.

Sousa called Guggenberger a leader for other principals within the district in her nomination letter.

KES has been named an exemplary school for the past three years under Guggenberger’s leadership for its positive behavioral interventions and support program. The program uses positive reinforcement to teach students to follow school rules with a star system. A student gets stars by following directions, such as not running on the playground, or through acts of kindness and generosity.

KES’ second step social/emotional curriculum has also become a standard in all elementary schools in the district. The program teaches students to tolerate each other’s differences and identify their feelings.

Guggenberger credits the guidance counselors at KES for their work with the programs.

Sousa said Guggenberger deeply connects with students, staff and faculty. She said Guggenberger grew up in a modest family, allowing her to connect with children who are less fortunate.

“I went to school in a small town,” Guggenberger said. “I can really identify with families that are working hard and doing the best they can and sometimes they just need a little extra support. I don’t want to see one single kid not have equal opportunities. It doesn’t matter to me what that child’s background is.”

Sousa said Guggenberger is always encouraging of others. “She always has faith in those she works with and strives to bring out their personal best,” Sousa said in her letter.

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