Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Program

Column Paragraph

About the Award

The Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Award was introduced in 1984 to recognize the role of the principal in establishing an environment conducive to the pursuit and achievement of academic excellence in North Carolina’s schools. This Foundation sponsors the award in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Since the inception of the program, there have been 40 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principals of the Year, 264 regional award recipients, and 3,364 local Wells Fargo Principals of the Year. The Principal of the Year Program recognizes principals at the local, regional, and statewide levels.

wells fargo logo

The local process begins with each school system selecting one principal as its local Wells Fargo Principal of the Year. The selection process at the local level is the responsibility of the local superintendent or designee. The person chosen as the local Wells Fargo Principal of the Year represents his or her school system in the regional selection process. The regional selection process includes an evaluation of the candidate through a portfolio review and an interview. Eight regional finalists participate in the state selection process. The state selection process continues with each regional finalist being interviewed and his/her portfolio reviewed by a state selection committee.

The Wells Fargo Principal of the Year serves as the North Carolina ambassador for the state’s approximately 2,500 principals. The NC Principal of the Year will serve in an advisory capacity to the State Board of Education for a two-year term and serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Public School Forum.

This selection process is facilitated in each region by NCDPI’s Educator Recognition Coordinator.

Wells Fargo NC Principal of the Year

2023 Winner Donna L. Bledsoe

2023 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Donna L. Bledsoe


  • 13 years of administrative experience
  • Appalachian State University (BS, MA)
  • Participant in NCPAPA Distinguished Leadership in Practice
  • NC ASCD Lighthouse School Award Recipient
  • Member of Surry County Schools Leadership Framework Design Team
  • Presenter at NCTIES Conference
  • According to the 2022 NCTWC survey, 96% of the staff believes teachers are held to high professional standards for delivering instruction

I believe in leading by example, therefore, I take on various roles throughout the building such as stepping in to cover classes, cleaning the school, doing lunch duty, nurse roles and much more. It is important for staff to see that I value their work and am willing to roll up my sleeves to work alongside them.

Thank you to our Sponsors

Wells Fargo is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company that has 266 stores and more than 36,500 team members in North Carolina. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all of its customers’ financial needs and to help them succeed financially through its banking, commercial real estate lending, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance products and services.

Wells Fargo is honored to sponsor the North Carolina Principal of the Year Program and to support educational initiatives in communities across the state. This past year in North Carolina, Wells Fargo provided more than $24.6 million to nonprofits and schools. These contributions were channeled into areas such as neighborhood revitalization, education, mortgage counseling, small business development, human services and financial literacy. Team members volunteered more than 230,550 hours. Visit a Wells Fargo branch today or wellsfargo.com to learn more about the company.

Wells Fargo and you — together we’ll go far.