Jillayne T. Flanders
Plains Elementary School
South Hadley School District
Southampton, Massachusetts

Nearly ten years into her first principalship, Jillayne Flanders faced the challenge of uniting under one roof three distinct school programs and populations. After over 60 years of separate buildings for a district preschool, an elementary school with kindergarten through grade 4, and an elementary school with grades 5 and 6, the district consolidated all at one site. Flanders met that challenge in 1996 and served as the unified Hadley Elementary School’s principal until 2000. At Plains Elementary School today, she oversees 361 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten and grade 1. Her accomplishments include initiating a program to provide individualized teaching and resources in the school to children ages 3 to 7 with autism and other special needs. Flanders also created a district network that connects all public, private, and home care providers for children from birth through age 8. Through this network, Flanders and other educators provide consultation and training to support children’s transitions from early care programs to a public school. “An early education program is most effective in supporting student achievement when the children are welcomed and comfortable,” says Flanders. Flanders leads by example in greeting students with smiles and hugs and taking time to listen to and respond to families. In 23 years as a principal, Flanders has headed two schools. She was awarded a B.A. and an M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.