Principal of the Year. The daughter of a teacher and social worker, Gretchen Cercone has been working in education since 1994. Gretchen earned a BS in Sociology from William Smith College, and a Masters of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Social Studies Education from Boston University. After moving to her adopted hometown of Buffalo, Gretchen worked as a teacher in the City of Tonawanda High School, where she started AHIMSA, a student club dedicated to non-violence. She also initiated a diversity program for students and staff and designed and taught Creating Herstory, a women's history elective in the social studies department. After ten years of teaching, Gretchen earned her Masters in School Administration at The University at Buffalo and worked as an assistant principal at Hoover Middle School. She is currently finishing her 7th year as the principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School, where she has developed a longstanding partnership with Buffalo State College. Through this partnership, a Buffalo State English education course is taught on site at the school, teacher candidates engage in a variety of fieldwork, JFK teachers serve as mentors to student teachers, and the 8th grade class takes a annual field trip to Buffalo State, where they learn about college life and potential majors. The school also participates in the Developing Future Teachers Fellowship Program. Gretchen is the winner of the Friendship Award from Gay and Lesbian Youth Services, the Norman Goldfarb Humanitarian Award, and was selected to participate as a leader in the Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity program through Wellesley College. In recognition of her commitment to the young people of our region, teachers, and teacher candidates, Gretchen is the 2019 recipient of the Project Flight Leaders are Readers Award, 1,000 books are being donated to JFK middle students in her name.