Suzanne Mitchell, principal of Selma Elementary School, has been selected as the 2015-2016 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year for Johnston County Schools in a program sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and Wells Fargo.
Mitchell was honored at a special Johnston County Principals/Assistant Principals Association (JCPAPA) breakfast on July 8th at Cleveland High School. The Johnston County Education Foundation presented her with an award check in the amount of $1,000, of which $500 is for personal use and $500 is for her school.
According to Mitchell, she could not have been more surprised when the recognition was announced. The honor was not something she suspected, but she was very pleased to hear that recent efforts had made an impact.
“One of my primary areas of focus this year has been to make sure Selma teachers know how much I appreciate them and how important they are to the lives of our students,” said Mitchell. “We have created a culture of joy and fun but more importantly I have sought ways to remind teachers of the difference they make daily.”
One of Mitchell’s initiatives, “Selma Success Stories,” proved to be a huge success this year. In it she interviewed a few students on camera that made a positive change through the year and asked them how or why they started making better choices.
“They always named a teacher, usually several teachers, as being the difference maker in their lives,” she said. “I showed the videos at staff meetings. We all ended up crying as a result, because it is so powerful to see students we love, transform and grow as people. That is the power of a teacher.”
Mitchell added that she feels the credit truly belongs to her staff whose hard work this past year helped raise proficiency by 3.5 percent.
“The award was not really about me,” said Mitchell. “I just facilitated ways to help the staff reconnect with why they chose this profession. Joyful, passionate teachers are better educators.”
Mitchell now moves on to compete with other local award recipients from the North Central Region of the state. After the state selection process is completed one principal will be selected as the 2016 Principal of the Year.
“Ms. Mitchell exhibits outstanding leadership, and her dedication shows in all that she does for her school, district, and community,” said Johnston County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom. “We wish her well as she moves forward in this competition, and the district is confident that she is an excellent role model for principals across the state. Our school system is fortunate to have the caliber of leadership that we have in our principals.”