Robert J. Palazzo

Panther Valley Elementary School
Panther Valley School District
Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania

As principal of Panther Valley Elementary School, Robert J. Palazzo has proven himself a resourceful leader dedicated to improving learning conditions for all students. When he first became principal five years ago, for example, Palazzo noted low assessment scores among first graders and immediately set out to lobby the school to implement a full-day kindergarten program, highlighting how this would strengthen educational foundations while easing family child care burdens. In 2020-2021, Palazzo took the next step to launch a pre-K program, the first registered childcare provider in the area, which will soon expand to serve even more young learners. Palazzo has also worked creatively to build a new playground and innovate reading instruction at Panther Valley even in the face of funding obstacles. While the school’s previous curriculum was not yielding significant skill growth, students are now exceeding the expected median growth between benchmark assessments on DIBELS thanks to a new literacy program implemented through grant funding. Drawing on eight years’ previous experience as a school psychologist, Palazzo was quick to act in the wake of a tragedy in the school community and has added mentors, a school social worker, and licensed counselors to the school’s team to address mental health needs in the school community. Palazzo holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees and a Certificate of Advanced Study in School Psychology from SUNY Oswego, as well as a Master of Education from Wilkes University.