PREVIOUS PRINCIPALS MONTH WINNERS
Every year Gulf Coast Educators FCU honors FOUR area principals in our field of membership who make a difference in their school, district, and community. View our previous recipients below.
2021 Principals' Month Winners
2021 Principals’ Month Winners
We are excited to announce the 2021 recipients of our Principals’ Month Award. We received a total of 1847 nominations for principals all over the greater Houston area, it was a tough process to narrow down the entries and select the top four. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to principals everywhere for making a difference in your school, district, and community.
Christine Coppedge – Williams Elementary School
Mrs. Coppedge is the principal at Williams Elementary in Pasadena ISD and has been principal at that campus since 2018. She is always thinking of what is best for her staff both in and out of the classroom. She provides them with the best resources and training that she can so that they can provide quality instruction for the students on her campus. She also makes them feel appreciated through her kind gestures such as delivering ice cream to their classroom doors, taking them lunch, tea, slushies, and leaving them positive notes to lift their spirits. Since she became the principal at Williams, the school has grown in many positive ways: academically, environmentally, through positive relationships, improvement of building, etc., she is a leader that cares about students and faculty, she is always there for everyone.
Margaret Meadows – Velasco Elementary and Lanier Middle school
Ms. Meadows is currently principal at Velasco Elementary and Lanier Middle school both located within Brazosport ISD. She has been in education for the last 24 years and her staff and colleagues commend her for the wonderful job that she is doing. Not only is she running two campuses with over 300 students on each, but she has never stopped being a supportive or compassionate leader for her faculty and staff. One would best describe her as a “true leader, listening to her teachers, respecting their professionalism and also always making sure that the student’s best interest is the number one priority as a campus”. Under her leadership, she has helped her campus transform from one that needed improvement to score overall well with the state in a short amount of time. Her tenacity has allowed her to lead both of her campuses with grace and determination which has raised the overall morale on her campuses.
Juan Nava – Terry High School
Mr. Nava is the principal of Terry High School in Lamar CISD. He has been in the education industry for more than 26 years and continues to thrive as an exceptional leader for his faculty and staff. He received a total of twelve nominations, and his staff is so appreciative of all the work he does for their students and campus. As a “hands-on” leader you can often find him cleaning cafeteria tables, sweeping, and doing whatever needs to be done to assist the custodial staff in between lunches so that students have a clean and sanitized place to eat lunch. Additionally, he is on the sidelines at the football games, in a faculty meeting, or watching the school band perform, his passion for education is apparent through all his actions. Despite the challenges faced because of the pandemic, Mr. Nava continued to be there for his staff to guide them and support them through those tough transitional times.
David “Mac” McConnell – Dickinson Alternative Campus
Mr. McConnell is the principal of the alternative campus in Dickinson ISD. Since he stepped into his role this year as principal, he has made several positive changes on his campus. He makes it a point to connect with his staff, continuously reminding them that they are a TEAM and each person plays an important role on campus. Additionally, he takes the time to personally meet, talk with, and encourage all students. He goes above and beyond to make sure they are getting their needs met and develops a mentoring type of relationship with them. During the pandemic which has been difficult for both staff and students, he’s offered support and guidance to help everyone out and do what is best for all. His staff really values all the hard work he does and is apparent in the morale seen on campus and the way that he leads.
2020 Principals' Month Winners
2020 Principals’ Month Winners
We are excited to announce the 2020 recipients of our Principals’ Month Award. We received a total of 1014 nominations for principals all over the greater Houston area, it was a tough process to narrow down the entries and select the top four. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to principals everywhere for making a difference in your school, district, and community.
Michael Curl – Kingwood Middle School
Mr. Michael Curl became Principal at Kingwood Middle School in Humble ISD just last year and since taking on his new role, he has transformed his campus with such positivity. He is described a someone that is supportive and understanding. He is always lending a helping hand and is willing to do whatever it takes to see his students and campus succeed. He is an inspirational and motivational leader that is always encouraging his faculty and staff to be the best educators they can be.
Within the first two years of his principalship, he led his campus through some challenging times, such as Tropical Storm Imelda and now the pandemic but nonetheless, he has remained an exceptional leader. During the storm, he opened his campus up to those students and teachers whose homes were greatly affected and needed a place to stay. He ensured his staff and students safety and security, offering them whatever resources they needed to get through those difficult days.
Additionally, he has offered support and guidance to his teachers during the pandemic as they have had to adjust to their new norm. Many of them were apprehensive of the times ahead, but he has led them with grace, compassion, and understanding. He even held weekly zoom meetings during quarantine to encourage his staff to remain positive and has found ways to uplift both his faculty and students during these unpredictable times.
He mentors and enables his teachers to reach new potentials. This is apparent in the positive school culture and overall morale on campus. As one of his teachers said, “Mr. Curl is a true leader; he leads by example. He is caring, sympathetic, and allows every teacher or student to be themselves and offer the best they can give.”
Geoff McCracken- Dayton High School
Mr. Geoff McCracken is the principal at Dayton High School within Dayton ISD. Many of his employees would describe him as the backbone to his campus, and a leader that is supportive and motivating. He is not just someone they see at meetings; he is a principal that is always walking around campus speaking to his staff and students.
Mr. McCracken is known to be the type of leader to encourage his staff to be the best educators they can be so that students are able to reach their fullest potentials. He listens to the concerns of his teachers and staff and is always willing to find solutions and make decisions that will benefit everyone.
During these times of distress and uncertainty, he remained a fearless leader that motivated and inspired his staff, creating a calming work culture for everyone. During the quarantine, he granted solace to his staff by keeping everyone informed and connected with thought-provoking Google Meets meetings. His leadership qualities are exemplified in the way he connects with everyone on his campus. You can catch him always willing to lend a helping hand, assisting teachers with classes, communicating with parents, or mentoring students.
Mr. McCracken is a principal that has created a welcoming environment for not only his staff but also the students on campus. He is a compassionate and kind leader that works hard to form good relationships with the faculty, staff, and students at DHS. Alike their school’s motto “Achieving Excellence Together”, he demonstrates this by celebrating everyone’s achievements regardless of how big or small they may be. This aids in keeping the morale of their school high and fosters a kind, collaborative, respectful, honest, and hard-working environment.
Diana Del Pilar- Avalos P-TECH School
Diana Del Pilar has been the principal of Avalos P-TECH School in Aldine ISD since 2019. As an Aldine ISD graduate from MacArthur High School, she is a leader whose primary focus is to work alongside her teachers to create an outstanding learning environment for her students to become successful in all they do. It is apparent that being accessible to her staff and students is fundamental in such a way that she moved her office location to a centralized area where both students and staff can easily get to her. On any given day you can catch her on the main halls of campus or in a teacher’s room guiding and coaching them to be the best educator they can be.
She is a principal that is always advocating for her students and thinking of new ways to create better learning opportunities for them. She is not afraid to draw up new ideas and bring them forward to the district when she feels they will make a significant impact on her campus. When teachers were forced to virtually teach, she researched what methods work best from scholarly reviews.
Her efforts are not only noticed by the faculty and staff on her campus, but also by the parents of students whom she has guided and supported. Parents are appreciative of her efforts when it comes to seeking out intervention options for their kids. They have felt like they are heard, and it is apparent because their students are finally enjoying school and overall learning.
Mrs. Del Pilar was the founder of a Zero Period intervention class for students that were high needs and struggled with reading. She and another teacher co-taught a reading class for the benefit of these students, and she did this all while still running her campus. Her unyielding efforts in providing this type of support for her students allowed them to achieve the highest Lexile growth in the district. Through her persistent efforts to provide valuable resources for her campus, she has also been able to achieve massive results from the students in addition to increasing their overall attendance for historically at-risk, low attending students.
Courtney Dickey- Meadows Elementary School
Courtney Dickey has been principal at Meadows Elementary in Fort Bend ISD for the last three years. In her time as principal she has proven to lead her campus with compassion, fearlessness and dedication.
Within her first months of taking on her new role, she was faced with having to transition her faculty and staff to a new campus as their current school was being torn down to be reconstructed. While some may have viewed this as a challenge, Mrs. Dickey did it with such diligence and made sure that her staff had all the resources they needed while moving into their temporary campus.
She has also demonstrated her servant leadership qualities as she has guided her campus through the pandemic, all while making time for her family, studying for her Ph.D., and overseeing the construction of their new school. She is continuously thinking of ways to make her teachers feel valued and appreciated, now more than ever. Additionally, she is always finding new ways to strengthen her district principal group and is always willing to share new ideas and resources with her fellow colleagues.
Mrs. Dickey is not only inclusive of her faculty and staff, but also of the students on her campus. This school year one of her goals was to build a sense of community and strengthen the culture and climate of her campus. She works incessantly to ensure her students receive the best education, in addition to developing her own understanding of the diverse needs of her students. She wants each of her students to exemplify her district’s mission- to pursue futures beyond what they can imagine.
2019 Principals' Month Winners
2019 Principals’ Month Winners
We are excited to announce the 2019 recipients for Principals’ Month. With 816 nominations for principals all over the greater Houston area, it was an extremely difficult process to narrow down our winners. We will be announcing them over the course of the next month so that each principal may be surprised.
Robert Laird – Channelview High School
Robert Laird has been the principal at Channelview High School in Channelview ISD for the last 2 and a half years. His staff describe him as a “hometown” Channelview guy, because he was born and raised here. He attended Kindergarten through 12th grade in Channelview ISD, and was a 1995 Channelview High School graduate.
His first year of being principal was met with many great challenges, all of which were met with professionalism and sympathy. Mr. Laird led his campus through Hurricane Harvey and opened the school as a shelter for those in need. Not much later, a tragic bus accident occurred that resulted in the death of the driver and injured many CVISD band students and faculty.
Mr. Laird is a hands-on type of principal and is out and about the school campus instead of just behind his desk. He is fair and heavily involved in the student body, he takes his job seriously and you can see his passion and love for the job title he holds. Mr. Laird has helped to build many programs and initiatives with his enthusiastic support.
One of his teachers said it best – “Mr. Laird is doing a great job leading by example. He rolls his sleeves up and gets side by side with us to make sure the students are learning and the campus is safe. We truly appreciate him.”
Kellie Clay, Palmer Elementary
Mrs. Kellie Clay has been the principal at Palmer Elementary in Fort Bend ISD for the last 5 years. If you stop by her campus, you might spot her in the classroom, on the playground with special needs students, or spreading love to all her Palmer Bears.
Mrs. Clay is an advocate for all students to feel safe and loved when they come to school; and to be challenged academically until they reach their fullest potential. You will often hear her say, “do what is best for the child.” This is a mantra she lives by and encourages her teachers to adopt as well.
Principal Clay is a staunch advocate for the mental health of both her students and faculty. She leads teachers to be the best educators they can be with grit and grace, but also encourages them to take care of themselves and their families.
Since becoming principal at Palmer Elementary, Mrs. Clay was determined to provide the best cutting-edge technology and opportunities for her students. She worked with the campus PTO to set a goal to purchase iPads for all students. In addition, Mrs. Clay has incorporated new events that get the community more involved, which in turn, has helped show students that their school and community are both rooting for them to succeed.
Carol Williams, La Porte Elementary
Carol Williams is the principal at La Porte Elementary in La Porte ISD. She was a graduate of La Porte High School, and has worked for the district her entire career as a coach, teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Mrs. Williams has led La Porte Elementary for the last five years and will be retiring at the end of this school year.
Carol Williams is known as a principal that knows each student by name and knows their story. She greets them outside the school each morning and works in the lunch room every day. She even takes the time to check on specific students that she knows have daily challenges based on their home life. La Porte Elementary students are happier, more successful, and they know that they are loved and their voices are heard.
Mrs. Williams is also very well respected amongst her staff. She trusts teachers to do their jobs well and gives them the tools they need to do so. By putting the right teachers in the right spots, with the resources, training, and materials needed to do their jobs effectively, she empowers them to be their own leaders.
La Porte Elementary was a Title 1, lowest performing LPISD school five years ago. Under Mrs. William’s leadership, her campus has earned an A report card from the state of Texas for the last two years in a row, and earned a 5 star distinction this year.
Dr. Crystal Watson, Nimitz High School
Dr. Crystal Watson, or “Doc,” as she is known around campus, is the principal at Nimitz High School in Aldine ISD. Dr. Watson received 28 nominations, the most out of any principal nominated this year.
Dr. Watson started at Nimitz High School five years ago, which at the time was a D-rated school and deemed academically unacceptable by the state. Under her leadership, Principal Watson has transformed her campus into a B-rated school, that is continually improving.
In her five years of leadership, Dr. Watson has made tremendous, significant, and substantial changes to the culture, climate, and overall dynamics of Nimitz High School. For students, she has implemented senior balloon release ceremonies with individual visions and mission statements inside for each student, monthly and quarterly recognition awards, honor roll, and many more. For her staff, Dr. Watson created a large tactical master scheduling method where all teachers with the same core content areas are off at the same period each and every day with common professional learning communities. Through her many innovative changes, Dr. Watson has established a culture that is conducive for learning for her students and teachers.
One of her teachers said it best – “She is the sole reason that I am still teaching. I could have retired, but I chose to stay and work as long as my health allows, and she is the principal of Nimitz High School. You could not work for or have a better person as your BOSS, LEADER, and FRIEND.”
2018 Principals' Month Winners
2018 Principals’ Month Winners
We are excited to announce 2018’s Principals’ Month winners for “Best Principal Ever!” With 887 entries, it was an extremely difficult process to narrow down our winners. We will be announcing them over the course of the next month so that each principal may be surprised.
Brent McDonald, Summer Creek High School
Brent McDonald is the principal at Summer Creek High School in Humble ISD. Mr. McDonald has been the principal at Summer Creek for two years now. During his first two weeks at the school, Hurricane Harvey hit, devastating the Houston area and the homes of many Summer Creek staff members and students. However, their neighbors at Kingwood High School faced much more destruction, as their campus was completely destroyed. Mr. McDonald welcomed the Kingwood students into his school with open arms, and made sure that all students and staff from each school were well taken care of and continued their education. During what most would consider to be an incredibly stressful time, Mr. McDonald ensured that his staff had the tools they needed to succeed and did everything he could to make their jobs easier. One of his staff members ended his nomination by saying, “I respect his leadership, and I am more invested in my workplace as a result of his guidance.”
Valorie Morris, Teague Elementary School
Valorie Morris is the principal at Teague Elementary School in Pasadena ISD. Ms. Morris received 52 nominations, the most out of any other principal nominated in 2018. She is described by her staff as the most caring, compassionate, and hard-working person they know. Ms. Morris is constantly going above and beyond every day to make students and staff members feel like they are at home when they walk through Teague Elementary’s front doors. She is known for putting on many events at the school to encourage family involvement, and even regularly volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House charity. Thank you for all that you do, Principal Morris!
Dr. Billye Smith, Dickinson High School
Dr. Billye Smith is the principal at Dickinson High School in Dickinson ISD. With over 40 nominations, her team described her as the “energizer bunny” who never stops working. She is at the school by 6:00 am every day, and doesn’t leave until at least 6:00 pm. Dr. Smith is often seen picking up trash, sweeping and mopping floors, working lunch duty, and doing anything that her students or teachers need. With over 3,000 students and more than 200 teachers, Dr. Smith has exemplified the true meaning of a servants heart. One entry said that Dr. Smith is “the hardest working, most dedicated servant leader, and most intelligent person that I have worked with in my 26 years of being an educator.” Thank you for all your hard work and dedication, Dr. Smith!
Rachel Blundell, Santa Fe High School
Rachel Blundell is the principal at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe ISD. Principal Blundell led her school through what most would consider to be their darkest day, May 18, 2018. To her staff, she has been the glue that has held their school together. Since that day, she has worked tirelessly to ensure that her students and staff have the tools they need to learn and excel, while feeling safe at school. Principal Blundell has implemented various new programs and practices that could serve as groundbreaking models for schools all over the country. One of her staff members said it best, “From Harvey to May 18th .. and everything before, in between, and since … Rachel has been the glue that has held this campus together. She has been tireless and compassionate in her efforts to do so. She’s done all she possibly could to smooth this rocky road we must travel. For that, and more, she deserves this recognition.”