School & District Management

Ed. Dept. Recognizes 9 Principals for Leadership Under ‘Challenging Circumstances’

By Denisa R. Superville — October 20, 2022 2 min read
conceptual illustration of many paper cut out hands celebrating a bright star
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

An Alabama principal who raised both math and English scores at her elementary school.

An Oklahoma school leader who revamped how his school used data to push students to grow academically.

And a Florida high school principal who expanded extracurricular activities for students at her Catholic school, while adding more academic options such as pre-med and pre-law.

They’re among the nine principals who lead National Blue Ribbon Schools and were named this week by the U.S. Department of Education as winners of the Terrel H. Bell Awards for Outstanding School Leadership.

The award, named after Bell, a former education secretary in the Reagan administration who started the Blue Ribbon Schools Program, spotlights principals who lead successful schools, often in trying conditions, according to the Education Department.

The award is a collaboration between the department, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Association for Middle Level Education, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. It recognizes both private and public school leaders.

The honorees include leaders like Julie Scott, the principal of R. L. Wright Elementary School, in Sedgwick, Kan., who spent time listening to teachers and the community to understand their needs when she first arrived. That led to Scott developing professional learning committees for the school’s teachers and paraprofessionals. She also meets weekly with 4th, 5th and 6th graders on a principal advisory team.

James Sonju, the principal of Lincoln K-8 School in Rochester, Minn., created a STEM focus in his school and worked with the Mayo Clinic to change the way the school approached science instruction.

In addition to Scott and Sonju, this year’s winners are:

  • Brigett Stewart, Piedmont Elementary School, Piedmont, Ala.;
  • Miguel Marco, Wittmann Elementary School, Cerritos, Calif.;
  • Denise Aloma, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.;
  • Linda Bevil, James B. Eads Elementary School, Munster, Ind.;
  • Catherine Bricelj, Myrtle Place Elementary School, Lafayette, La.;
  • Ryan Ambrose, Checotah Intermediate Elementary School, Checotah, Okla.; and
  • Mahri Aste, Mosaic Elementary School, Fairfax, Va.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, a former principal and state schools’ chief in Connecticut, said he understands the important role principals “play in shaping school culture and welcoming learning environments, improving student achievement outcomes, and empowering teachers to meet the needs of their students.”

This year’s leaders “have raised the bar for building positive school climates, increasing achievement, and finding creative ways to nurture, engage, and support students, families, educators, and school staff,” Cardona said in a release, announcing the winners.

“At a time when principals and other school leaders face many challenges, from addressing students’ unmet mental health needs to accelerating their academic recovery from the pandemic, the Department of Education is proud to recognize the essential work they do each day.”

The school leaders will receive their awards at an event next month, as part of a ceremony honoring this year’s Blue Ribbon Schools.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
K-12 Cybersecurity in the Real World: Lessons Learned & How to Protect Your School
Gain an expert understanding of how school districts can improve their cyber resilience and get ahead of cybersecurity challenges and threats.
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Schools 101: Best Practices & Key Benefits
Learn how to develop a coordinated plan of action for addressing student trauma and
fostering supportive, healthy environments.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Learn to Talk to Each Other Again: 4 Tips for Schools
Schools can play a vital role in helping all of us begin talking to each other again in more civil, meaningful ways.
3 min read
Three individuals connected by jigsaw puzzle speech bubbles over their heads.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Video Tools Don't Have to Distract. Five Tips Show School Leaders How to Harness Them
Newsletters and announcements don’t always do the trick. Principals can use videos to improve their relationships with students.
4 min read
Image of a woman recording herself.
fizkes/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Quick Hacks: How Schools Can Cut Costs and Help the Environment
Schools can take advantage of tax credits and grants offered in the climate change spending package Congress passed this year.
3 min read
Newly installed solar panels stretch out along the north side of Madison-Grant High School near Fairmount, Ind., on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017.
Newly installed solar panels stretch out along the north side of Madison-Grant High School near Fairmount, Ind., on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017.
Jeff Morehead/The Chronicle-Tribune via AP
School & District Management How This Principal Uses TikTok and YouTube to Build School Culture
A Louisiana principal has found that short videos reinforce what’s happening in the classrooms.
8 min read
Tight crop of hands typing on a laptop overlaid with a window that includes a video play button and red progress bar.
iStock/Getty Images Plus