Tomahawk Creek Middle Principal David Ellena named Virginia’s top middle school leader

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Tomahawk Creek Middle Principal Dr. David Ellena recently was named the 2018 Outstanding Middle School Principal of Virginia by the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals. As the state nominee, Ellena is now eligible to be named National Principal of the Year.

“This is well-deserved recognition for an outstanding school leader,” said School Board member Dianne Smith, whose represents Tomahawk Creek as the Clover Hill District member. “Each time I visit the school, I see engaged students, passionate educators and an environment conducive to hands-on, 21st century learning. That’s a direct reflection of Dr. Ellena’s leadership, his commitment to putting students first and his desire to create a learning environment where teachers can think outside of the traditional four walls of a classroom.”

Ellena has been recognized for the innovation and creativity he has encouraged at Tomahawk Creek. Project-based learning and service learning have been the hallmarks of his time at the school. Tomahawk Creek was one of the first schools in the region with a makerspace, where for several years students have been making prosthetic hands for people to use. The annual Wolfies recognize teacher creativity and ingenuity when it comes to lesson planning

“Dr. Ellena is the type of middle school principal whom innovative teachers dream of working with to create an innovative, engaging learning environment. He is also the type of principal who middle school students love because of the fun learning environment that has been created,” Superintendent Dr. James Lane said. “Dr. Ellena has been instrumental in introducing innovative ideas at Tomahawk Creek Middle and in pushing the state to think past existing classroom boundaries. Thanks to his vision, students at Tomahawk Creek are combining blended learning, project-based learning and service learning to address real-life issues and develop solutions that lead to better lives for others.”

Dr. Ellena has been in public education for 34 years. He started as a physical education teacher in 1985 and has served as principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle for seven years. He is active in the Virginia Association of Secondary Schools Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, having served on the board of directors for both organizations. In 2016, Ellena was named the 2016 Virginia Master in the Middle Educator of the Year by the Virginia Middle School Association.

Ellena will receive the VASSP’s top award at the organization’s 91st annual Middle and High School Principals Conference and Exposition later this spring in Hot Springs.