Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Overview

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One of Wells Fargo's long-standing goals is to be a good corporate citizen in the communities in which it does business and to enthusiastically demonstrate its support of education. Where education is valued, communities are enriched.

The candidate must:

  • Be a principal of a North Carolina public school.
  • Have at least four years’ experience as an administrator (years may be a combination of assistant principal, principal and central office experience).
  • A principal is a person designated by a local Board of Education as the head of a school with 100 or more pupils in average daily membership (ADM) and/or with seven or more full-time, state-allotted teachers.
  • A principal is the executive head of the school.
  • Be employed as a school administrator throughout the local and regional selection process.
  • Be a practicing school administrator in order to compete for the Wells Fargo Principal of the Year state title and remain practicing principal for the entire term.
  • Hold a valid principal's license.

Candidates should:

  • Create a climate of inquiry the challenges the school community to continually re-purpose itself by building on its core values and beliefs about its preferred further and then developing a pathway to reach it.
  • Reculture the school if needed to align with the school’s goals of improving student and adult learning and to infuse the work of the adults and students with passion, meaning and purpose.
  • Build a sense of efficacy and empowerment among staff that results in a “can do” attitude when faced with challenges.
  • Ensure the school is a professional learning community.
  • Create with staff opportunities for parents, community, and business representatives to participate in the school such that continued investments of resources and goodwill are not left to chance.

Previous state Wells Fargo Principals of the Year are not eligible to be nominated as candidates.


For information concerning local teacher of the year processes, please contact your district/charter official.

For information concerning regional and state teacher of the year processes, please contact the Educator Recognition Coordinator:

Elizabeth Santamour
Office of the State Superintendent
Public Schools of North Carolina
Department of Public Instruction
6307 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-6307


Expectations and Roles

The Wells Fargo Principal of the Year will serve in an advisory capacity to the State Board of Education beginning with the July State Board meeting. The state principal is expected to attend and actively participate in state board meetings.

In addition, the Wells Fargo Principal of the Year will compete for the National Principal of the Year honors through the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association (NCPAPA). In addition, NCPAPA sends one representative at the Elementary and Middle/High School to represent NC at the national level. These representatives are chosen from the regional finalist team.

The Wells Fargo Principal of the Year will also receive the following appointments during his or her tenure:

  • Board of Directors of the NC Public School Forum — The principal will serve a one-year term concurrent to the time served as the state principal of the year (September - August).
  • Numerous speaking engagements and committee service across North Carolina as invited and requested throughout the year.



  • Cash Award for personal/professional use.
  • State Vehicle for professional use.
  • Cash Award for educational material and supplies
  • A customized ring and pendant from sponsor Jostens, Inc.
  • Overnight stay from sponsor Hampton Inn & Suites.
  • Prize package to fight child hunger from sponsor No Kid Hungry NC.
  • Professional Development Opportunity from sponsor Education First.

Selection Process

Each school system may select one principal as its local Wells Fargo Principal of the Year. The selection procedure at the local level is the responsibility of the local superintendent or designee. The selection must be objective and fair and must assure that all public school principals have access and equal opportunity to be nominated and to compete.

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 procedure includes an evaluation of the candidate through a portfolio review and an interview. The state is divided into eight geographical regions and NC Charter Schools are clustered together to form the ninth region of the state.  The Charter School Principal of the Year joins the Regional Principals of the Year team as the finalist for the state Principal of the Year. 

The state selection process continues with each regional finalist being interviewed and his/her portfolio reviewed by a state selection committee.

The culmination of Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Program is a ceremony in Raleigh, where the statewide winner is announced. The date is set in the month of May. The N.C. State Superintendent of Public Instruction and other board members are invited to attend. The winner is confidential until the announcement ceremony.

Candidates at all levels deserve special recognition for achievement. Local school systems are encouraged to consider various means of recognition, such as surprise announcements, banquets, media coverage, awards, or other activities.

Local and regional candidates represent their school systems throughout the process. Each candidate should have the support of the district during all aspects of the competition — portfolio preparation, interview process, the on-site visits (when necessary), adherence to rules and publicity — as general moral support.

Regional winners are asked to chair the regional selection committees tasked with finding their successor at the end of their term.

Selection Schedule

May - August August: Principal of the Year Nominations Submitted. Upon submission, Principal of the Year Portfolio emailed to Public School Units (Districts and Charters) Principal of the Year (copied to TOY Coordinators)
November Portfolios of local principals of the year are due to the Educator Recognition Coordinator. (Portfolios received after submission deadlines will not be processed unless there are extenuating circumstances.)
November - December POY portfolios are assessed and interviews are conducted. Six regional semi-finalists are selected. Virtual interviews for six regional semi-finalists which leads to the selection of a regional Wells Fargo Principal of the Year.
January NCDPI announces the Regional Principals of the Year.
January- March The state selection committee reviews portfolios and conducts interviews for each of the nine regional winners.
May Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year is announced at the awards event.