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Pitt County principal Steve Lassiter named principal of the year

Pactolus School Principal Steve Lassiter was named the 2015 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year. The Pitt County Schools’ principal succeeds Mooresville Middle School Principal Carrie Tulbert.

State Superintendent June Atkinson commended Lassiter on his selection.

“Strong principals support their staff and students, and build successful school environments,” Atkinson said.

“Steve makes a special effort to celebrate all of his teachers’ accomplishments and consistently provides positive affirmation to students so that they make good choices and work hard toward academic success. As a result, students and teachers look forward to coming to school each day.”

“The common thread that runs through excellent public schools is strong leadership.”

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey also commended Lassiter on his selection as the state’s principal of the year saying, “The common thread that runs through excellent public schools is strong leadership. Steve is a wonderful example of the quality principals leading our public schools. Thank you to Wells Fargo for its long-standing partnership that enables us to publicly recognize these outstanding men and women.”

In naming Lassiter the 2015 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year, Juan Austin, Wells Fargo Carolinas Community Affairs Manager, said, “Through Steve Lassiter’s leadership, he has created a stellar example of what public education can achieve by involving parents, teaching strong character, providing a safe and loving environment for learning and, most of all, placing students’ needs above all else. Our support of this program allows us to honor exceptional school leaders like Steve for the work they do to prepare young people for successful futures in a growing global economy.”

Creating an environment that supports high standards for professional practices is a top priority for Lassiter. “It’s important to offer teachers the opportunity to reflect on their practices and collaborate with their peers in a non-evaluative way. Professional Learning Communities and Instructional Rounds encourage adult learning and growth, which leads to increased student achievement,” he said. Lassiter added that he also found these opportunities stimulate excitement and energy among faculty participants.

Lassiter received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education Child Studies in 2004 and a master’s degree in School Administration in 2010 both from East Carolina University. He went on to earn an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership in 2013 from North Carolina State University and is currently pursuing his doctorate in Educational Leadership also from North Carolina State University.

He has served the Pitt County Schools System from the beginning of his career. He taught fifth grade at W.H. Robinson Elementary in 2004-05, sixth grade at E.B. Aycock Middle from 2005-08, and served as assistant principal at Pactolus Elementary from 2010-12. While an assistant principal, he oversaw the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program. He was named principal of Edna Andrews Elementary in 2012 before returning to Pactolus as its principal in 2013.

In addition to being recognized as the 2015 Region I Wells Fargo Principal of the Year, Lassiter is a recipient of the 2014 Wilcox-Hodnett Doctoral Fellowship for North Carolina Public School Administrators and a 2008 North Carolina Principal Fellow.

A statewide selection committee selected Lassiter from among eight regional finalists following interviews and on-site visits. The other regional finalists were:

Region II: Robin Hamilton, Parsley Elementary (New Hanover County Schools);

Region III: Tonya Williams, Sherwood Githens Middle (Durham Public Schools);

Region IV: Kim Robertson, Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary (Cumberland County Schools);

Region V: Christopher Poston, Pittsboro Elementary (Chatham County Schools);

Region VI: Adam Auerbach, Wolf Meadow Elementary (Cabarrus County Schools);

Region VII: Shane Mace, East Burke Middle (Burke County Schools); and

Region VIII: Scott Rhodes, East Henderson High (Henderson County Schools).

Each regional finalist received $1,000 for personal use and $1,000 for their schools.

As Wells Fargo Principal of the Year, Lassiter will receive $3,000 for personal use and $3,000 for his school. He also will receive a scholarship for a 10-day educational tour of Switzerland thanks to Education First Tours, a privately held company that offers a range of education programs from language training, educational travel and academic degrees to cultural exchanges. 

For the next year, he will serve as a member of the State Superintendent’s Principals’ Advisory Committee, and as an advisor to the State Board of Education and the Board of Directors for the NC Public School Forum. He also will chair the 2016 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Selection Committee.

This year marks a 32-year partnership between the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and The Wells Fargo Foundation. You can follow the North Carolina Principal of the Year finalists on Twitter at #NCTOYPOY.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.