News Releases » Seaside Principal Named Grand Prize Winner in Nutella's

Seaside Principal Named Grand Prize Winner in Nutella's


Seaside, CA– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School of the Arts Principal Sam Humphrey was awarded the grand prize in Nutella’sWho Makes Your Morning Happy? contest. Sam was nominated in late spring by Kera Abraham Panni, parent of an MLK: School of the Arts transitional kindergartener and Board Trustee of the International School of Monterey. Both Humphrey and Panni were notified of the award in late summer.


Panni’s essay (below) focused on the energetic morning assemblies that Humphrey leads at the start of each school day.


“I am humbled by this honor,” Humphrey said. “Building school culture is a priority at MLK, and it was an incredible surprise to be recognized in this way.”


The grand prize was $15,000. Humphrey donated a portion of it to his school site to purchase much-needed classroom technology, including improvements to the sound system used for the assemblies in the multi-use room.


“Nutella recognized the heart Sam brings to our school community,” Panni said. “All children deserve to start each day feeling valued, confident and excited to learn. This honor shines a well-deserved spotlight on the wonderful work Sam and the MLK staff do every day for our kids.”

The Nutella® "Who Makes Your Morning Happy?" contest celebrated those who help make others smile, starting right from the moment they wake up. They encouraged consumers to nominate someone who makes their mornings a little brighter. From bringing families together around the breakfast table to making even the little moments meaningful, Nutella believes that every day should start happy.

Winning Essay


In the morning rush to get the kids to school—get dressed, eat breakfast, pack lunches, grab homework—I don’t even have time to make myself coffee. I pull on some boots and throw a jacket over my sweats as I hurry the kids out the door. By the time we’ve turned into the parking lot of my younger son’s school at 7:55am, we’re irritable and rushed in a jam of irritable, rushed families.


We find a parking spot and tumble out of the car. I straighten TJ’s shirt and slide his backpack over his 5-year-old shoulders. We shuffle past bright murals, up rainbow-colored stairs and into the auditorium at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School of the Arts in Seaside, California, where Principal Sam Humphrey is rallying an auditorium packed with 415 students.


“Fired up?” Principal Humphrey asks into the mic.


“Ready to learn!” the kids and teachers respond in unison.


“¡Adelante!” the principal shouts.


“¡Adelante!” the students shout back.


Sometimes I stay to see what Humphrey does next. On Mondays, he high-fives kids who were especially creative in art class. Wednesdays are “Open Mic Miercoles,” when he brings students onstage to show off their talents. On Fridays he invites students, families and staff to join him for a dance party.


Then the teachers lead their students back to the classrooms and I head back to my car—always with a grin. If these five minutes are able to turn my own mood around, I can only imagine how great they make the kids feel.


One morning I have a chance to ask Principal Humphrey about the philosophy behind those morning programs. Why gather all the students together in the auditorium?


“It’s been a great way to share a common language and a bit of cheerleading to help set the tone for the positive and encouraging school environment we strive to provide,” he says. “We believe in the power of starting every school day together as a community.


“Some of our students endure a lot of hardships in the morning before getting to school,” he adds. “Giving them just five minutes of energy, enthusiasm, dancing and celebrating gives them the restart they need to have a great day. It sure beats the old traditional attendance roll-call and worksheets that started every day for me as a kid.”


I feel a little self-conscious talking with the principal, in his khakis and necktie, as I stand there disheveled in my sweats. But he reassures me that his mornings at home are as hectic as mine—he has to get his own three kids ready for the day.


“I'm usually not even done with a half cup of coffee before getting onstage,” he says. “While there's been a lot of days that I haven't quite felt like the shout-outs and the high energy, I have yet to have a morning where I wasn't smiling, with an extra pep in my step, after those five minutes.”


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