Dr. Wesley Johnson, Hobbton High School principal and Sampson County Schools’ Principal of the Year, received another honor earlier this week when he was named the 2013 Wells Fargo Southeastern Regional Principal of the Year.
Everyone involved - Johnson’s faculty and staff, leaders from Sampson County Schools’ Central Office, and even Johnson’s family — kept the news a secret so that the announcement would be a surprise.
When Johnson met with his faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon, he was told it was for a regular meeting. Only when his wife and two daughters, bearing smiley-faced balloons, entered the room during the middle of the meeting was the surprise revealed.
Kay Thompson, the Southeastern Regional Education Facilitator with the Department of Public Instruction, was on hand to make the big announcement.
“This is a day of celebration,” said Thompson as she congratulated Johnson. “Getting to do this, present these awards, is the best part of my job.”
Thompson praised Johnson’s leadership and dedication to his school and the community, characteristics that made him an ideal candidate and winner for the prestigious award.
According to the Public Schools of North Carolina website, a candidate’s eligibility for the regional principal of the year award includes “meriting respect and admiration of students, teachers, co-workers, and parents,” being “active, not only in school but also in their communities where they distinguish themselves as leaders,” and demonstrating “the ability to improve the achievement of students from various backgrounds and with differing capabilities,” to name a few.
“He’s just the whole ball of wax,” noted Thompson of how Johnson embodyies the program’s requirements. “He’s professional and personable. I have read many glowing recommendations written for him, and I could tell that he’s the heart of the school.”
Dr. Ethan Lenker, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, agreed. “We knew that with Wesley we had an exceptional chance to win this award. We knew that his leadership could take him to the next level, and we expect him to go even further to the next level [the state award]. Good things are going on in Sampson County Schools and Wesley is proof of that. He’s one of the great quality people we have here in Sampson County.”
In response to the surprise announcement, Johnson was, indeed, surprised and very moved. “I’m a little taken aback right now. Truth is, there was serious competition. I was honored to even be considered.”
“I’m just glad to be able to represent our school and the county because that’s what it’s really about. I couldn’t do what I do without all of you doing your jobs,” said Johnson to his faculty and staff. “Hopefully I’ll be able to represent well at the state level.”
Hobbton High’s faculty and staff could hardly contain their happiness for Johnson.
“He’s just a wonderful person and supervisor,” said teacher Danielle George. “I teach exceptional children and he’s always been so supportive of me and those kids. He has an open door policy; he’s always there to listen and to help.”
Science teacher Carrie Vann shared that she was one of the ones who wrote a recommendation for Johnson. “I’m just so proud. He works right alongside us and is such a moral booster.”
Geoffrey Tart, Hobbton High’s band director and Teacher of the Year, pointed out that Johnson “supports the whole student” which he described as including academics, sports, and the arts.
“He expects a lot out of the teachers and students too. He expects our best,” added Tart. “I’m just like being under his leadership.”
Assistant principal Sheryl Kimbro noted that Johnson set a great example for her and the other faculty and staff. “He’s a great principal to work with. I feel blessed to be able to learn from his leadership, and I feel confident that he will represent Hobbton High and Sampson County Schools well at the state level of competition.”
Last but not least, Johnson’s wife, Jennifer, also shared her pride in her husband and his accomplishment. “I’m just so proud. He’s worked so hard and is so dedicated. He really loves his job.”
Now, as Johnson celebrates his award with his family, friends, school, and community, he also awaits the results of the state competition. The statewide winner will be announced in early May.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at email@example.com.