Dr. Gregory A. Taranto, principal of for seven years, was named the 2012 Pennsylvania Middle Level Principal of the Year.
Taranto was selected for the award by the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary Principals. He is now entered in the MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals Principal of the Year Program.
Although this is the top honor for middle level principals, it is not the first award for the school under Taranto’s leadership.
Last year, which recognizes schools achieving academic excellence, based on the rigorous 37 criteria established by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. In 2011 he was also a finalist for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Outstanding Young Educator Award.
His entire career in education has been at Canon-McMillan, beginning in 2000.
Canonsburg Middle School has an enrollment of more than 750 students in grades seven and eight.
Taranto is known for being instrumental in the development of adopting a true academic teaming environment. Canonsburg Middle School students are offered more opportunities for learning and faculty members team to provide an education for the “whole child.”
He also created a new innovative model for preparing new teachers entering the field through the creation of a new teacher induction program harnessing the power of Web 2.0 technology and connecting new teachers with experienced teachers, administrators and university professors to create a strong support system.
Taranto holds a bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University, master’s degrees from East Stroudsburg University and California University of Pennsylvania, along with a Ph.D. from Robert Morris University in instructional management and leadership. He earned his principal’s certification at California University of Pennsylvania, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in its Administrator Program for Principals.
“We take pride in educating the whole child—to make our students creative contributors to society well beyond their middle school days,” Taranto said. “We set the foundation for them.”
He added: “This award is reflective of the people I work with. I couldn’t achieve this without all the dedicated people in this school.
“We hire the best people and have a rigorous process. We have high expectations for our faculty and for myself. They know I’m working at the same pace. We’re also doing such neat things here that people think these are programs expected only in more affluent school districts."
Along with strong core academic classes, Taranto points to the school’s unique course offerings such as the technology education program that includes robotics and computer-aided design and drafting. The school’s arts and music programs are state and nationally recognized.
“National education journals want to know what we’re doing to allow us to give back to the field and share ideas,” he said. “We resist only teaching to the test and offer a quality education in this test crazy educational climate. We strive to do more and improve every year.”
Taranto and his wife Melissa are the parents of Jeremy, 12, and 9-year-old twins, Mackenzie and Ethan.