PHHS Principal Receives Leadership Award

Patrick Henry HS Principal Receives R.E.B. Leadership Award
Posted on 03/30/2023
Chris MartinezChris Martinez, the principal at Patrick Henry High School (PHHS), is the Hanover County Public Schools winner of the 2022-23 R.E.B. Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership by The Community Foundation. As a recipient, Mr. Martinez will receive a $30,000 grant – a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant and $20,000 to be used for expanding a peer mentoring program at the school, a wellness room for staff, and to further support a food pantry for students battling food insecurity.

One principal from each school division in the counties of Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield, as well as the City of Richmond, receives the award annually. It serves to recognize principals who “go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment.” The school community and the public submit the nominations.

“I am beyond humbled. Doing what is best for kids and providing them with what they need to be successful is what we do as educators,” said Mr. Martinez, who is in his fifth year as the principal at PHHS. “Being a principal is the best and most rewarding job I have ever had. We have some amazing school leaders and I am grateful to work alongside them. Though I am receiving this award, it is an absolute team effort!”

Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools, surprised Mr. Martinez on Tuesday with the news of the recognition during a meeting with division leaders from across the school division.

“Mr. Martinez is a dedicated leader who has a clear passion for serving students, staff, and the community with his continuous focus on building up the ‘PHamily’ of Patrick Henry High School,” Gill said. “This is a well-deserved honor for Mr. Martinez, and I am incredibly proud of his accomplishment. We are truly fortunate to have him on our team.”

Mr. Martinez said his favorite part about being a principal is “the people.”

“I love working with our students, parents, staff, and community members. It is the best reward to have a part in our students' success,” he said. “The partnership with our families and community to support our students is a huge piece in how we meet our students’ needs.”

Mr. Martinez plans to use the grant funds to support both students and staff.

This school year, PHHS selected 24 students to serve as peer mentors, spending one block of their schedule as counseling assistants – being the first face in the school counseling office that other students see when they enter. These mentors help direct students to their school counselor or to the school’s calming room, which has benefitted students’ mental health. The mentors also assist with community outreach events at the school, such as a Trunk or Treat event at PHHS that attracted families from across the school division. With the R.E.B. funding, Mr. Martinez said these peer mentors will receive additional training and help with more community engagement activities.

Additionally, a portion of the funds will be used to create a “PHamily” wellness room for faculty and staff at the school, which will “provide staff with opportunities to focus on self-care and developing healthy coping strategies while reducing stress and anxiety.”

“Not only do PH students need support with mental health and wellness, but also PH staff,” Mr. Martinez said. “Supporting my staff is essential to helping the students reach their potential.”

He added: “The goal of a wellness room is to support all staff with a calmer and more peaceful environment while also encouraging staff to work on their personal goals in life.”

Finally, the grant funds will support the expansion of “PHamily Pantry” to assist students who have reported to teachers and support staff that they are hungry at school and don’t have food at home. Staff at the school created the pantry this year in response to the reported need. Since the pantry’s inception, PHHS staff members have partnered with local organizations and businesses to grow the pantry into a fully stocked space with canned goods and perishable items. Not only will the additional funding expand the pantry space, Mr. Martinez said he plans to add a freezer to the pantry and to have this resource for students include clothing.

Mr. Martinez, a Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus, taught math for 10 years and also served as both the Math Department Chair and Assistant Activities Director at Atlee High School (AHS) before becoming an assistant principal at AHS for three years. He was appointed to serve as principal at PHHS in 2018.
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