9 Wells Fargo North Carolina Regional Principals of the Year Named

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For immediate release

Feb. 14, 2022


Wells Fargo North Carolina Regional Principals of the Year Named

Nine Vie for State Title


POY 2022

Nine outstanding public school principals have been selected as regional Wells Fargo North Carolina Principals of the Year who will now compete for the state title of 2022 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year. The winner will succeed the 2021 recipient, Dr. Elena Ashburn, principal of Needham Broughton High School (Wake County Public Schools).


The nine regional Wells Fargo principals of the year are:


  • Northeast: Alison Covington, South Greenville Elementary (Pitt County Schools)
  • Southeast: Dr. Patrick Greene, Greene Central High (Greene County Schools)
  • North Central: Keith Richardson, Knightdale High (Wake County Public Schools)
  • Sandhills: Antonio Covington, East Hoke Middle (Hoke County Schools)   
  • Piedmont-Triad: KaTrinka Brown, Jackson Middle (Guilford County Schools)         
  • Southwest: Larenda Denien, Idlewild Elementary (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools)     
  • Northwest: Dr. Heather Melton Freeman, North Wilkes Middle (Wilkes County Schools)  
  • Western: Dr. Marsha S. Justice, Edneyville Elementary (Henderson County Public Schools)
  • Charter Schools: Maria Mills, Carolina Charter Academy (Angier)


Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said that strong and effective principals – such as this year’s regional Wells Fargo finalists – are essential to the goal of ensuring that every student in North Carolina have a highly-qualified, excellent teacher.


“Principals are the unsung heroes of the pandemic,” Truitt said. “They enable others to achieve their very best, often more than they thought possible. Especially during this past year’s pandemic challenges, these school leaders helped their schools overcome difficult obstacles to ensure that teaching and learning continued at the highest levels.”


Tabari Wallace, special advisor to the superintendent for principal engagement, also cited the pandemic as a challenging test of principals’ leadership skills.


"Principals are the great multipliers of excellence and the glue that has held schools together during the pandemic,” Wallace said. “Their innovative approach to instructional leadership and steadfast dedication to fortifying a positive school culture helped create an environment for students and teachers to perform at their personal best. I look forward to these leaders serving as regional ambassadors during the Principal Roundtables of 2022-23." 


The Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Award was introduced in 1984 to recognize the critical role of the principal in establishing a culture that supports the pursuit and achievement of academic excellence in North Carolina schools. The 2022 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year will be announced May 20.


Learn more about the program here. Follow us at #NCTOYPOY