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Career Pathways Program Sees Principals Recognized For Incredible Dedication and Impact

Eleven school and district leaders’ career advancement brings new experiences, perspectives, and responsibilities  

Strong leadership changes schools, connects communities, and enhances student learning. Whether leading elementary, middle, or high school, our school leaders go above and beyond every day to make a difference. Retaining these talented leaders and ensuring they are fulfilled, challenged, and growing is a crucial component of progress for students and staff. 

City Schools Career Pathways for principals, coordinated in partnership with the Baltimore City Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association (PSASA), helps to do just that. With career advancement pathways in place, principals move through different roles like Transformational Principal and Distinguished Principal to gain new experiences, perspectives, and opportunities to make an impact. 

In total, City Schools has more than 30 Distinguished or Transformational Principals and 21 Distinguished District Administrators, all of whom are expanding their work and leadership. 11 principals and school administrators who recently completed this advancement were celebrated at a public school board meeting earlier this school year.

One of them, Principal James Dendinger of Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School, had spent his 24-year career as a school-based administrator and educator. That changed in 2021, when, as a newly titled Distinguished Principal, he was tapped to lead the district’s COVID Testing program in an interim capacity. The experience was a part of the Multi-Office District Fellowship, which gives Distinguished Principals an opportunity to lead both in their schools and at the district level. 

Principal Dendinger helped develop testing and response protocols for City Schools, provided COVID response guidance to school leaders, led a team of project managers and 160 health and safety coordinators, collaborated with the Maryland Department of Health and the Baltimore City Health Department, and worked with testing vendors. As he put it, "I learned so much about central office leadership from doing my Distinguished Principal work.  I also gained great perspective on the very difficult decisions that central office leaders must make when developing policy that impacts school-based administrators and schools. This change in role, where I now provide leadership at both my school and at the district level is the essence of the design of the Distinguished Principal Leadership Program."   

Another newly minted Distinguished Principal, Patricia Burrell from North Bend Elementary/Middle School, has expanded her leadership to an additional school — offering mentorship to a new school leader through the Multi-School Leadership program. Principal Burrell monitors and provides feedback, offers guidance on educator coaching and workload capacity, and helps enhance strategic planning and decision making.  

Congratulations to Principal Dendinger, Principal Burrell, and the nine more school and district leaders who were most recently celebrated for their advancement! They include: 

  • Nicholas DAmbrosio, Distinguished Principal, Academy for College and Career Exploration
  • Cindy Harcum, Distinguished Principal, Baltimore City College
  • Jonathan Hornbeck, Distinguished Principal, Hampstead Hill Academy 
  • Najib Jammal, Distinguished Principal, Lakeland Elementary/Middle School 
  • Marc Martin, Distinguished Principal, Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School
  • Rhonda Richetta, Distinguished Principal, City Springs Elementary/Middle School
  • Harold Henry, Transformational Principal, Frederick Elementary School
  • Danielle Tillman-Cromartie, Transformational Principal, Harford Heights Elementary School
  • Dawn Shirey, Distinguished District Administrator, Director of 21st Century Learning 

To learn more about City Schools’ career pathways program, visit