This year's National Principal of the Year honor goes to a Gwinnett County educator.
Suwannee–based Principal Kerensa Wing learned of the award Monday, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She is currently the principal of Collins Hill High School, a school that she helped to open in 1994 as a history teacher.
After rising in the ranks from assistant principal in 2002 to principal in 2014, Wing attributed her success to the students, saying she wants to make sure educators are helping students achieve their dreams.
“I just love working with young people and helping them develop and to see them be able to grow and become young adults that are going to give back to our community and society," Wing said. "I think that's what motivates me."
Wing joins Dr. Curtis L. Jones Jr. as a nationally recognized Georgia educator. Jones, the superintendent of Bibb County Schools, was named 2019 National Superintendent of the Year this past February.
Both educators have been praised by colleagues for their dedication to the well-being and education of their students.
She implemented a professional learning community structure among her team, incorporating scheduling changes to accommodate common planning and collaboration time using research-based practices for students, according to the NASSP.
As a result, student performance on state assessments rose between 3% and 13% in proficient and distinguished levels on all tests.
Wing noted that the close relationship she shares with her school community has been a major factor in the achievements of her students.
“It's a team effort," she said. “You have to really get to know the kid and help them discover who they are and what their interests are and help them connect with that to develop the talent that they have.”
Drawn to teaching since the second grade, Wing has dedicated most of her life toward education. She received her bachelor’s degree in both history and secondary education from Oglethorpe University, and her master’s in secondary social studies from Georgia State University.
She began her teaching career at the age of 21 and is now going into her 30th year as an educator, all of which she spent within the Gwinnett County School District.
CEO and Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools J. Alvin Wilbanks said in a press release that Wing is always up to the task, no matter the job.
“For her, the role of principal is not just a job, it is a true calling," Wilbanks said. "She is a strong instructional leader whose care and concern for her students, her staff members, and her school community is evident in all that she does.”
Wing hopes to use her new position to further promote education, specifically advocating for the funding and influence of public schools across the nation. Her new title affords her the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. three times this year and speak with members of Congress about education.
“I think part of what makes our country great is the fact that we have a free and open public education system," Wing said.
She added that in order for the country to continue to be successful, "We need to make sure that kids have an opportunity, regardless of where they're coming from, to learn how to read and problem solve and become literate citizens and adults."
"If we can continue with that mission and we continue to try to create and inspire that creativity and curiosity in our students, then we'll continue to have a great economy and a great nation,” Wing said.