The nine finalists for 2015 Principal of the Year are all rated in the top 3 tiers of the Principal Excellence Initiative. There are four elementary level finalists, two at the secondary level, and three from magnet and special programs. The winners will be announced at an event to honor their accomplishments Dec. 9.
“I know that I cannot do it alone,” she said. “It takes a village: parents, teachers, support staff and community members working together to nurture, motivate, and inspire a child.”
A self-described servant leader, Bernardino makes it a priority to educate parents to help them become effective advocates for their children. She hosts monthly parent coffees, workshops, visits homes and helps groom parent leaders through PTA and the site-based decision making committee. She has earned the respect of parents like Maritza Barrera, who says Bernardino “goes above and beyond” to equip parents to help their children succeed.
To expand the supportive village for students, colleagues say Bernardino has forged effective partnerships with the Southeast Dallas Hispanic Chamber, Eastfield College, North Texas Food Bank and Real School Gardens, among other community organizations.
Colleague Adrian Gonzalez describes her as a leader who exhibits a tenacious work ethic and constant willingness to collaborate, share knowledge and mentor others.
According to colleague Jennifer Parvin, much of the school’s success at nurturing these thriving partnerships is due to Wallace’s skill at collaboration. Parvin, a former principal who worked closely with Wallace, calls her a leader of “outstanding character who evokes and develops leadership in others,” and “an exemplary developer of people, both as a coach, leader and a creator of professional learning experiences.”
Parent Rebecca Heller credits Wallace for taking Withers from “good to great” by establishing a clear road map for success, gaining buy-in from all stakeholders, setting high goals and committing to execution of those goals, all to the benefit of greatness for all students.
Singleton says Holland’s success is based on promoting positive relationships with staff, practicing respect, increasing trust, and filtering every decision through the lens of what’s best for students. Such practices helped the campus move from low performing in her first year as principal in 2013 to a status of met standards with three distinctions in 2015.
Singleton’s supervisor, feeder pattern Executive Usamah Muhammad-Rogers describes the turnaround at Holland as “remarkable” and calls Singleton “a hard-working visionary who leads with courage and tenacity.” Echoing those sentiments, Assistant Principal Melissa Myles-Quinn says Singleton transformed Richard Lagow Elementary, a school where both previously worked, from low-performing to exemplary with the same incredible work ethic and passion now in evidence at Holland.
To expand her staff’s leadership skills, Shelton shares responsibilities with her Campus Instructional Leadership Team, involving them in planning professional development, observing and delivering feedback to new teachers, and serving as mentors—all with the goal of increasing the quality of instruction.
Shelton’s willingness to share her expertise, coupled with her practice of decorating to make the building more welcoming, hand-writing notes of appreciation and holding events to celebrate staff successes, prompted one teacher to declare that “she not only makes Richard Lagow a great place for kids to learn, but she has made it a great place to work.”