- Fontana Unified School District
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Fontana Unified Administrator Named ACSA Region 12 Elementary School Principal of the Year
FONTANA, CA – Almond Elementary School Principal Tim McCaffrey has been a legend in Fontana Unified ever since, as an assistant principal at Sequoia Middle School, he threw himself on the gym floor during a pep rally dance-off and performed the “worm.” McCaffrey’s spontaneous energy, which earned him an ovation from students and staff, continues to resonate throughout the District.
McCaffrey, now in his fourth year as Almond Elementary’s principal, was honored for his commitment to student achievement and literacy by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), which named him the Region 12 Elementary School Principal of the Year.
“This is a humbling and incredible honor that I would like to share with all of the ‘staffulty’ and scholars at Almond,” McCaffrey said. “We have so many amazing people here who are willing to come together to serve our community and future leaders. My goal is always to try to boost people around me, give them strength and empowerment. Thank you to ACSA for recognizing our efforts.”
McCaffrey’s passion for literacy led him to create the District’s first mobile library at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, bringing books to the doorstep of Almond families in a trailer equipped with LED lights, smoke machines, confetti launchers and a sound system. The mobile library has drawn praise from families, colleagues, administrators and Board of Education members.
“Every student in the area knew the mobile library was on the move because they could hear the music from a distance away,” Almond assistant principal Salvador Rodriguez said. “Students and parents could take as many books as they wished and had the option to return them when done. To this day, the mobile library still cruises the neighborhood to bring smiles and books to the community.”
Looking for a way to channel the artistic energy of Almond scholars, McCaffrey created Pacer Production Studios, which introduces students to TV and film production techniques, including lighting, camera angles and group collaboration, enlisting students from Summit High School’s TV Production pathway to help mentor the students. The studio was highlighted during a FOX 11 Los Angeles newscast in 2022.
Almond Pacer Production Studios filmmakers were featured during the inaugural Fontana Unified Film Festival, held in May, sharing their latest music and TikTok-style videos.
“Prior to this year we concentrated on having our scholars working on newscasts in our studio, but this year we have shifted toward video assignments that are more relevant to the kids,” McCaffrey said. “It was really special for our scholars to see their work up on the big screen and to walk a red carpet. It’s great preparation for them and they got a big kick out of it.”
McCaffrey uses vocabulary to promote a growth mindset at Almond, referring to his students as scholars and posting signs all over campus that say “We Are Relentless.” In addition, he refers to all the adults on campus as “staffulty” for their ability to serve as role models while encouraging, motivating and providing unwavering support for scholars.
“Words are so important. They speak about life, possibility and hope,” McCaffrey said. “I want my scholars to know that the world is out there for them to make into something better. When they are struggling, I want them to encourage them to never give up.”
McCaffrey arrived at Fontana Unified in 2006 and served as a middle and high school math teacher, math instructional coach, secondary math coordinator, and assistant principal, prior to being named Almond Elementary principal in 2019.
ACSA is a Sacramento-based education advocacy organization representing more than 16,000 superintendents, administrators, classified managers and confidential employees across California, with a mission to champion public education.
“Tim McCaffrey is a dedicated, dynamic and innovative administrator who has created a nurturing environment where his students can thrive,” Fontana Unified Superintendent Miki R. Inbody said. “We are delighted that ACSA has recognized Tim for his hard work.”