2021-22 Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year

Mrs. Christen Hutchinson is in her third year as Assistant Principal at Clara Barton Elementary School in Oxford. Christen was a special education teacher for 12 years prior to her role as an administrator. She began her career at Crossroads School for Children in Natick. She transitioned to public schools working for three years at the J.C Solmonese in Norton teaching students in grades K-3. She then spent six years at West Street School in Southbridge working with students with emotional disabilities in grades 1-5. During that time she was recognized for her leadership qualities and was approached to work on becoming an administrator by taking the apprenticeship route.

She earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Plymouth in England, her Masters in Special Education at Simmons University and CAGS from American International College.  Christen resides in Northbridge with her family.

Christen focuses on the social and emotional well-being of her students. She created a “Sensory Room” with comfortable seating, weighted blankets, fidgets and posters of yoga poses that students learned in their Mindfulness special. This space is open to any student to take a mindful moment. Christen is also enrolled in the “Breathe for Change” program to offer more support to the well-being of students and staff in the district.

“Students matter to Christen. I often see her walking the halls and communicating with children on a regular basis. Her investments in connecting and building relationships with the children has led to a level of trust and comfort where they feel valued and respected, “ according to a staff member. “She has a strong rapport with all of our students, including some of our most challenging. She has a presence around her that makes kids feel safe and comfortable. They trust her immediately.” Building those relationships allows her to have respectful conversations with students and their parents. Some of these relationships have extended beyond their years at Barton and she continues to visit and communicate with them while in Middle School.

Christen collaborates closely with a variety of staff to support students socially, emotionally and academically. She meets with a clinical team each week to problem solve along with classroom teachers to support students’ behavioral and mental health concerns. Christen also works with the Director of Curriculum and Instructional Coaches to analyze data and support students academically by utilizing resources effectively. “Making sure the students have access to the resources they need by communicating closely with the teachers and families is a priority of Christen’s”.

During the 2021-22 school year, she was assigned to an additional elementary school.  She now splits her time equally between schools. This has allowed for cohesiveness between K-4 in Oxford. “We have all noticed an increase in communication and connectedness between the teams. Collaboration is at an all time high, and this benefits the students and their families” according to a colleague.