South Carolina principal Akil Ross has been named the 2018 National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
The annual honor goes to a school administrator who is driving change in his or her school. Ross learned that he had won the award during a surprise assembly on Friday morning at his school, Chapin High School in the Lexington-Richland school district. Gov. Henry McMaster and state schools Superintendent Molly Spearman were among the state and local leaders who attended the event.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called in during the ceremony to congratulate Ross. She thanked him for his “exemplary leadership,” for challenging his students and staff to be the best they can be, his strong and compassionate leadership, and for being a champion for change.
Ross has been principal of the award-winning Chapin—a 9th -12th grade school with 1,315 students—for seven years. The school boasts a 96 percent graduation rate, and Ross has challenged his staff to get the graduation rate to 100 percent.
Ross was one of three finalists for the award.
“Akil Ross’ accomplishments illustrate just how important it is to invest in leadership as a means of improving student learning,” JoAnn Bartoletti, the director of the National Association for Secondary School Principals, said in a statement announcing the award. “We are honored to recognize him as a powerful multiplier of effective practice and as a model of compassionate school leadership.”
Lexington-Richland schools Superintendent Stephen Hefner also praised Ross.
“He is a great visionary, an extraordinary leader, a highly-skilled manager, and a phenomenal culture builder,” Hefner wrote in a statement released before the ceremony. “He is an excellent representative of our profession and will be a most effective spokesperson for public education on the national level.”
Ross thanked his teachers, to whom he said he was indebted. “This is the best faculty that could be assembled,” he said, asking students to give their teachers a round of applause. He also thanked his administrators and students.
Although the award may have his name on it, it belonged to Chapin High School, he said.
Photo caption: Akil Ross, the principal of Chapin High School in South Carolina, was selected as the 2018 National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Photo courtesy the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.