RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Along with gifts and praise, two Wake County school administrators have been given the honor of being recognized as the best in the district.

Principal of the Year: Winston Pierce

Named this school year’s Principal of the Year, Winston Pierce is the principal of Farmington Woods International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Magnet Elementary.

Pierce, an alum of UNC Chapel Hill, has served within the Wake County school district for more than 30 years. She holds master’s degrees in both Principal Fellowship and Early Childhood Education.

Principal Pierce, before her current role, also served as principal of Wendell Elementary and assistant principal of Millbrook Elementary.

The school district said Pierce received an engraved award to commemorate the honor along with $1,000 for her school, a check for $1,000 and $300 in various gift cards. She also gets a on-night free hotel stay, a Chick-fil-A gift bag and a signed hockey stick and t-shirt courtesy of the Carolina Hurricanes.

A culture of staff empowerment

According to Alyson Tuck with Wake County schools, Pierce’s approach to school leadership is all about “a mindset of staff empowerment.” Each member of her staff participates in one of five leadership teams that make decisions about various school improvements.

“In addition to formal structures to value staff voice and trust in decision making, celebrations permeate our school culture to share respect for staff dedication and commitment,” Pierce said. “These celebrations communicate respect from administration, colleagues and school families for all that the school staff do each day to value learning and focus on student success.”

Assistant Principal of the Year: Lessie Anderson

Named Wake County’s Assistant Principal of the Year, Lessie Anderson has dedicated the past 10 years in the district to teaching and leading schools.

She worked as a math teacher at Knightdale High School and also as an assistant principal for Middle Creek High School before taking on her current role in 2021 as assistant principal of Willow Spring High.

Anderson, also a Tar Heel alum, holds master’s degree in secondary mathematics education from UNC and business administration master’s from East Carolina University.

A culture of trust & respect

Just as Pierce prioritizes staff empowerment, Anderson strives to create a culture of trust and mutual respect, the district’s announcement explained.

“Trust within a school does not happen by chance,” said Anderson. “Nor does it look the same to everyone. Whether that means keeping promises or being consistent, I’m very intentional in my actions. As both the students and staff say, I move with purpose!”

Along with her duties as assistant principal, Anderson goes above and beyond in her service as co-chair of the “School Improvement Team” and member of the PTSA and Athletic Boosters. 

Anderson also received an engraved award along with a check for $500, $250 in gift cards and a Chick-fil-A gift bag. Not leaving her without Carolina Hurricanes swag, the Canes also provided the Assistant Principal of the Year with a signature duffel bag with a few t-shirts.