NRMS TRUSTED ADULT Award winners Brianne Dispersio and Heather Maiola are congratulated by their colleagues. From left: Brianne Dispersio, Christina Gandolfo, Middle School Vice Principal Laura Oliveto, Director of Student Services Cynthia Conant, Drug Free Communities Grant Director Amy Luckiewicz, Heather Maiola and Middle School Principal Dr. Cathy O’Connell. (Courtesy Photo)

NORTH READING — The North Reading Community Impact Team’s Youth Substance Use Prevention Coalition announces its 2023 Trusted Adult Award winners.

Educators Ben Owens of North Reading High School and Heather Maiola and Brianne Dipersio of North Reading Middle School were each recipients and received multiple nominations.

Every two years, the Coalition accepts nominations from North Reading youth who wish to recognize an adult in their lives that they can go to for support. “This award recognizes the important influence adults have on shaping young people. Having a go-to person in their lives is among the most important relationships a child can have growing up,” Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Grant Director Amy Luckiewicz believes.

In nominating Mr. Owens, one student noted: “He is a trusted adult because I have built such a strong relationship with him, and I feel like I can trust him with anything. He has impacted every single student who has been in band.”

SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER Detective Paul Lucci presents NRHS teacher Ben Owens with his Trusted Adult Award. Applauding is Principal AJ Loprete. (Courtesy Photo)

“I am so pleased to know that Mr. Owens has been selected to receive the Trusted Adult Award. When Mr. Owens arrived at North Reading High School in 2018, the marching band consisted of 24 students and had participated in only three competitions. Now, four years later, there are 62 total members and the marching band has new uniforms, competes in four competitions annually, and earned a silver medal at the most recent MICCA competition and a gold medal at a recent NESBA competition,” commented North Reading High School Principal AJ Loprete. “Additionally, the marching band now consists of a full marching drumline and front ensemble.”

Loprete added, “Mr. Owens did not win this award, however, because of the steps he has taken to grow the marching band program. He won this award because of who he is and how he approaches his work. I am so pleased to have him on our staff and I am gratified to know that the students equally recognize his commitment to their growth.”

About educator Heather Maiola, one of her students said, “You can tell her anything and she won’t judge you. She’s a trusted adult to me because she is understanding and kind to all of her students.”

A nomination from one of Brianne Dispersio’s students included this sentiment: “She always asks if everyone enjoyed their weekend. She listens to us and what we have to say. Many students go to Mrs. Dispersio for advice about a situation or just to see her.”

North Reading Middle School Principal Dr. Cathy O’Connell offered her praise for these educators as well. “Both Brianne and Heather are amazing educators. They prioritize student relationships and can often be found in the student lunch room during their own lunch block checking in with current and former students,” O’Connell said. “It is obvious that Middle School students feel comfortable and supported by these two educators.”