Friday, May 24, 2024

Beckie Spears named 2024 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year

Beckie Spears, principal of Wilkesboro Elementary School, was named the 2024 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year today at a ceremony at the Umstead Hotel honoring nine finalists from across the state.
Raleigh, NC
May 24, 2024
2024 Principal of the Year Beckie Spears

Beckie Spears, principal of Wilkesboro Elementary School, was named the 2024 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year today at a ceremony at the Umstead Hotel honoring nine finalists from across the state.

Over the past five years, Spears has made a tangible impact on the performance and culture at Wilkesboro Elementary School, and as a result, the school exceeded expected growth for the 2022-2023 school year.

Under Spears’ leadership, teachers and staff use data to drive instruction, and they work collaboratively to serve all learners. Spears works with families to meet students’ most basic needs.

“Mrs. Spears does a beautiful job balancing instructional and organizational leadership alongside the student, staff and community relationships needed to effectively lead her school,” said North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt. “It is through her thoughtful guidance that students, staff and the community of Wilkesboro Elementary are poised for success in their next steps.”

Spears shared in her North Carolina Principal of the Year portfolio that she strives to keep Wilkesboro Elementary School focused on social and academic learning.

“It sounds simple enough, but staying focused on learning can be a challenge,” she said. “Diverse student needs, changing curriculum, rigorous standards, new initiatives and staff turnover can impact how we spend our time and energy. It is essential that we know our students, families and staff so that we can accomplish our mission of empowering all learners to reach their greatest potential.”

Spears embraced the opportunity to participate in the first cohort of Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS®) training in the science of reading and ensured that her staff had the support and resources needed to succeed as they implemented their professional learning into the classroom. By the end of their first year, 95% of kindergarteners and 83% of first graders were reading on grade level.

Spears says her “greatest joy from the past five years was seeing our teachers complete LETRS®, use their skills to improve outcomes for all kids, and celebrate exceeding growth in reading.”

Wilkes County Schools Superintendent Mark Byrd shared in a letter supporting Spears’ Principal of the Year nomination that her strong instructional leadership has led to academic growth for students and professional growth for the teachers in her school.

“Mrs. Spears makes it clear that her passion for school leadership lies primarily in leading and developing teachers in her school,” he added.

Spears has been principal of Wilkesboro Elementary School since 2019, but she brings nearly 30 years of education experience to the table. She was a classroom teacher for 18 years – many of which were spent at Wilkesboro Elementary School. She has taught high school English, elementary and AIG classes. She also served as an instructional specialist and data coach for two years and as an assistant principal for five years. 

Spears has a bachelor’s degree in English from Meredith College, where she was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and graduated summa cum laude. Her master’s degree is in school administration from Appalachian State University, and she’s National Board certified.

On naming Spears as 2024 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year, Juan Austin, Community Impact and Sustainability Senior Manager for Wells Fargo, said, “Congratulations to Beckie Spears and Wilkesboro Elementary School on this well-deserved honor.

“Wells Fargo is proud to continue our support for the North Carolina Principal of the Year program and to celebrate administrators like Mrs. Spears, who serve as leaders and role models for all of us. As the Bank of Doing, Wells Fargo takes action to create meaningful progress for customers and local communities.”

Spears will spend the 2024-25 school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the profession, with financial support from Wells Fargo and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). She will receive a mobile device from Lenovo, an engraved award, a gift from the Carolina Hunger Initiative and a custom-made NC Principal of the Year signet ring from Jostens. She will also have the opportunity to participate in the Truist Leadership Institute and a seminar at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, as well as attend the International Society for Technology in Education conference.

In addition, Spears will compete nationally for the honor of the National Association of Elementary School Principals Distinguished Principal of the Year, representing the elementary and middle school levels through the North Carolina Association of School Administrators’ professional organization.

Spears was recognized alongside eight additional regional Principal of the Year finalists. These school leaders were also recognized today:

  • Northeast: Sonya Rinehart, John A. Holmes High School (Edenton-Chowan Public Schools)
  • Southeast: Christianne May, Castle Hayne Elementary School (New Hanover County Schools)
  • North Central: Winston Pierce, Farmington Woods Magnet Elementary School (Wake County Public Schools)
  • Sandhills: Erica Fenner-McAdoo, Howard Hall Elementary School (Cumberland County Schools)
  • Piedmont Triad: Dr. Nancy Martinez, Career Center High School (Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools)
  • Southwest: Dwight Thompson, Renaissance West STEAM Academy (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools)
  • Western: Phil Rogers, R-S Central High School (Rutherford County Schools)
  • Charter School: Dr. Sarena Fuller, ArtSpace Charter School

North Carolina has recognized outstanding principals through its Principal of the Year program since the 1980s, helping promote the profession through advocacy and support while recognizing principals who are implementing best practices in schools across North Carolina.

For more information on North Carolina’s Principal of the Year recognition program, visit the program’s website.

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