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DASD welcomes three new elementary principals

DASD welcomes three new elementary principals

The Downingtown Area School District (DASD) Board of School Directors introduced three new elementary principals during its May 29 meeting:  Ms. Kecia Nesmith at West Bradford, Dr. Melanie Susi at Shamona Creek and Dr. Shawn Wright at Brandywine Wallace. DASD is excited to welcome these educational leaders and invites the community to get to know their new administrator.

Three new principals

From left to right:  Dr. Melanie Susi, Dr. Shawn Wright and Ms. Kecia Nesmith                                                      

Kecia Nesmith – West Bradford Elementary

Kecia Nesmith comes to DASD with over 20 years of academic leadership experience and is looking forward to joining the Downingtown family. “I am super excited to become a part of such a kind, loving, and welcoming community,” adding, “I hope to bring a renewed energy, innovation and support that is focused on ensuring success for all students in a culturally-responsive learning community.”

Prior to becoming principal of West Bradford, Nesmith served for three years as principal of Gilpin Manor Elementary School in Elkton, Maryland, and as assistant principal for the two years prior. She taught seventh-grade in the School District of Philadelphia and English as a second language in the Kennett Consolidate School District. Additionally, she has served as an adjunct professor at Cecil College in content area reading for pre-service teachers. 

Principal Nesmith found a love of education at a young age. “My mother, a retired teacher, inspired me to become a teacher. I was very intrigued by how she made learning fun and how her students were actively engaged in learning.” This interest blossomed into a way of life. “I love to engage with children; their minds are full of creative ideas and new ways to look at things. It’s exciting to see their inquisitive minds at work in the classroom. I especially enjoy the bonds we form and the growth they make each year. My passion as a school leader is to empower all learners and educators to achieve excellence and reach their full potential.”

Nesmith earned a Master of Education in School Leadership from Wilmington University, a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language at West Chester University and a Bachelor of Education in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish from West Chester University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership at the University of Delaware. 

Outside of work, Nesmith spends time with her two children, Nya and James III, and her supportive husband, James Jr. She enjoys reading, singing with her gospel choir and salsa dancing. She also volunteers at her church, with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.


Melanie Susi, Ed.D. – Shamona Creek Elementary

Dr. Melanie Susi brings to Shamona Creek over 20 years of experience in education as a classroom teacher, special education teacher, literacy specialist, academic advisor and assistant principal. Susi has a long history with DASD, having served 19 years in the district. She recently noted, “DASD is my home. I truly value the relationships I have developed with the students, families and staff here, and they are the reason I love DASD so much.”  

Prior to coming to DASD in 2000, Susi began her career as a special education teacher. She then spent fourteen years as a classroom teacher and three years as a literacy specialist at Lionville Elementary School. She moved to Lionville Middle School to serve as the academic advisor and finally returned to Lionville Elementary last year as the assistant principal.

Susi is passionate about her role as an educator. “What excites me about education is the ability we have to not only be a part of children’s lives, but to have a positive impact on them. As educators, we all have the power to create a love for learning, build strong relationships with students and help our students grow and discover who they are and what they love. That has always been my reason to be excited and love coming to school each day.”

Susi earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education from Millersville University, a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Neumann University.

Susi currently resides in Coatesville with her husband, Peter, and their two children, Harrison and Delaney. She spends much of her spare time attending sporting events and activities supporting them. Susi also enjoys reading and loves to paint and decorate. 


Shawn Wright, Ed. D. – Brandywine Wallace Elementary

Dr. Shawn Wright is not a new face in the district, having spent the past four years as an Assistant Principal of Downingtown Middle School. As an educational leader, Wright most enjoys interacting with students. “My favorite part of the job is visiting classrooms and doing read-alouds, as nothing is more important at that moment than what’s next on the following page; possibilities are endless!”

Before coming to DASD, Wright was a building principal in the School District of Philadelphia, an assistant principal in Coatesville and a supervisor of curriculum and instruction at a charter school in Center City. In addition, Wright taught first and fourth grades, led an Instructional Support team and supervised Response to Instruction and Intervention programs. A true educator at heart, Wright noted, “I decided to become an educator because I enjoy celebrating children and have always loved the boundless energy and potential uniquely found within an elementary school.”

Wright is a proud alumnus of the University of Central Oklahoma where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He completed a master’s degree in education and his principal certificate from Cabrini College, and earned a Master of Arts in Theology from Villanova University. Wright recently earned his doctoral degree in educational leadership from Widener University.

Wright is the proud father of three beautiful children who are students in the Downingtown Area School District. He lives in Downingtown with his wonderful, patient wife. In addition to being an insatiable reader and a Phanatical sports fan, Shawn enjoys music, coaching, puzzles, and good food and fun-times with friends and family.  


Photo caption: DASD welcomes three new elementary principals to the district (From left to right:  Dr. Melanie Susi, Dr. Shawn Wright and Ms. Kecia Nesmith)