Dr. Jessica Panfil, principal at Claremont Immersion Elementary School, has been named Arlington Public School’s 2022 Principal of the Year.
Dr. Panfil joined APS in 2010 as the early childhood coordinator before moving to her current role. She began her career in education as a Teach for America fourth-grade bilingual classroom teacher in New York City. Dr. Panfil earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American History at Columbia University and her Master of Education degree at The University of Georgia. Later, she received her Doctor of Education degree from the University of Virginia.
At Claremont, Dr. Panfil manages a dual-language school with over 700 students. Her zealous encouragement and efforts to promote creativity and innovation are evidenced by students’ involvement in rigorous STEAM and bilingual activities in and out of school.
Dr. Panfil exemplifies communication and cooperation between the school and community through her commitment to all of her families. She works closely with the PTA to ensure families have access to high-quality foods for free on a weekly basis. During the fall and winter months, she ensures students have winter clothing and school supplies. Even during COVID-19, Dr. Panfil was able to continue the support for all of the families and personally delivered MiFi access points to families in need of internet connectivity.
“When Dr. Panfil learned of a family in need, she worked closely with the community to ensure the family had furniture in their new living areas,” Iliana Gonzales, a colleague of Dr. Panfil said. “Families and students that attend Claremont never forget the kindness of Dr. Panfil’s heart, and her commitment not only to her students but her students’ families as well. Time and time again, Dr. Panfil is able to connect with the community by being present in each and every conversation she has with a community or family member and making them feel valued and heard.”
Dr. Panfil’s ability to connect with faculty, staff, students, and families is what creates a culture of trust. “Dr. Panfil is a listener and a responsive leader,” Gonzales said. “Staff know Dr. Panfil cares deeply about each person’s personal and professional life, as she continues to build and maintain positive relationships with her faculty and staff.”