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West Craven High School principal announced as 2018 Principal of the Year

The principal of West Craven High School has been announced as the 2018 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year.

The principal of West Craven High School has been announced as the 2018 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year.

Tabari Wallace was selected from a field of eight regional finalists that were chosen earlier this year after interviews and portfolio reviews.

“I attribute these successes to my belief in my teachers’ instructional abilities and the students’ motivation to overcome any faulty perception placed upon them by non-believers,” Wallace said in the portfolio he submitted for the award. “The overall driving force was the belief in my students’ ability to overcome and meet the challenge to outperform their affluent counterparts when no one believed they could do it.”

Wallace was named Principal of the Year at an awards luncheon on Friday in Cary. He helped boost student performance at two middle schools in the district, crediting teachers and students for the success at both schools.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson commended all of the finalists for "stand-out leadership" in their schools and districts. He congratulated Wallace for his selection as the state's principal of the year.

“These are school leaders who exemplify the kind of leadership that combines a formidable array of skills, knowledge and instincts needed to inspire, guide and support everyone with a role in school,” Johnson said. “We’re lucky to have them as role models for North Carolina’s principals, teachers and students.”

Senior vice president for community relations at Wells Fargo Juan Austin said the progress students made in the schools under Wallace's leadership is a clear indication of Wallace's strengths.

"Wallace's leadership, focus and determination have been key to his success as a principal,” Austin said. “He has a special ability to recruit and retain quality teachers in his school, and student achievement is remarkable. He will make an excellent ambassador for public education in our state."

In a press release from North Carolina Public Schools, officials detailed Wallace's background and achievements:

"Wallace grew up in a poor neighborhood in New Bern, he says in his biographical sketch, graduating from New Bern High School and earning a full athletic scholarship at East Carolina University as a walk-on member of the Pirates football team. After earning a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation services and playing professional football, he was hired as a lateral-entry math teacher at New Bern High and was offered an assistant principal position at Tucker Creek Middle School four years later.

He was principal of Havelock Middle School from 2008 to 2015 and principal of H.J. MacDonald Middle School from 2015 to 2017. This year is his first as principal of West Craven High.

Wallace earned masters degrees in school administration, school counseling and rehabilitation services, all from East Carolina University, where he is now a doctoral candidate in education.

During his two years at H.J. MacDonald Middle, the school made gains in student performance and topped overall average proficiency rates for the district and state for the 2016-17 school year. The school exceeded growth expectations under the state’s annual accountability measures in each of his two years leading the school. Wallace noted that the gains followed redistricting for the school that increased the proportion of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch from 19 percent to 64 percent."

As principal of the year, Wallace will receive $3,000 for personal use and $3,000 for his school. He will also receive professional development and resources supporting global awareness in the curriculum for his staff from Education First Tours, a custom-made NC Principal of the Year signet ring and pendant from Jostens Inc., a complimentary two-night stay at the new Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Chapel Hill-Carrboro, and resources to help combat child hunger from the Principal of the Year program’s newest sponsor, No Kids Hungry NC.

"While continuing to lead his school for the next year, Wells Fargo will furnish him with a stipend to travel across the state serving as an ambassador for education," North Carolina Public Schools officials said. "He will serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education and also to the board of directors for the NC Public School Forum. He will also compete for national recognition through the NC Principals and Assistant Principals Association and will serve on the 2019 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Selection Committee."

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