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2022 Regional Principals of the Year announced

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The nine principals who will vie to become the 2022 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year have been announced.

The nine make up the regional Wells Fargo North Carolina Principals of the Year, but the top winner — who will be announced May 20 — will succeed the 2021 Principal of the Year Elena Ashburn.

“Principals are the unsung heroes of the pandemic,” State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said in a press release. “They enable others to achieve their very best, often more than they thought possible. Especially during this past year’s pandemic challenges, these school leaders helped their schools overcome difficult obstacles to ensure that teaching and learning continued at the highest levels.”

The nine regional principals of the year are:

  • Northeast: Alison Covington, South Greenville Elementary (Pitt County Schools).
  • Southeast: Dr. Patrick Greene, Greene Central High (Greene County Schools).
  • North Central: Keith Richardson, Knightdale High (Wake County Public Schools).
  • Sandhills: Antonio Covington, East Hoke Middle (Hoke County Schools).
  • Piedmont-Triad: KaTrinka Brown, Jackson Middle (Guilford County Schools).         
  • Southwest: Larenda Denien, Idlewild Elementary (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools).     
  • Northwest: Dr. Heather Melton Freeman, North Wilkes Middle (Wilkes County Schools).  
  • Western: Dr. Marsha S. Justice, Edneyville Elementary (Henderson County Public Schools).
  • Charter Schools: Maria Mills, Carolina Charter Academy (Angier).

Tabari Wallace, special advisor to the superintendent for principal engagement, said in a press release that principals set the stage for the success of teachers and students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Principals are the great multipliers of excellence and the glue that has held schools together during the pandemic,” he said in a press release. “Their innovative approach to instructional leadership and steadfast dedication to fortifying a positive school culture helped create an environment for students and teachers to perform at their personal best. I look forward to these leaders serving as regional ambassadors during the Principal Roundtables of 2022-23.”

Part of the North Carolina Principal of the Year’s role is to serve as an advisor on the State Board of Education and on the board of directors for the Public School Forum of North Carolina. The state Principal of the Year will also travel North Carolina “serving as an ambassador for education,” according to a press release announcing last year’s winner.

According to the press release, principals of the year have been recognized in North Carolina since 1984.


EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.