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Onslow County Schools selects principal of the year

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -

Helen Gross, principal of Carolina Forest International Elementary School, has been selected as the 2014 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year for Onslow County Schools.

Onslow County Schools tells 9 On Your Side Gross has served as principal of Carolina Forest Elementary School since July 2009. She also served as assistant principal at Bell Fork Elementary School and was as a guidance counselor at Southwest Middle School. From 2006 to 2009 she served as the director of the Army Community Services in Netherlands.

Gross received an Associates of Arts degree from the University of Hawaii, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, a Master of Arts in Counseling from Argosy University, a Master Certificate in School Counseling from East Carolina University and a Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She is currently enrolled in the Doctorial of Educational Leadership program at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. 

Under her leadership Carolina Forest partnered with VIF International to bring international teachers to each grade level. In 2012 it became Carolina Forest International Elementary exposing students and faculty to a globalized educational experience. The school is now one of four VIF Model Passport Schools in the state. Carolina Forest is also a University of North Carolina Wilmington Partnership in Action School, one of three in southeast N.C.

In 2009-10 and 2010-11 Carolina Forest received School of Distinction state recognition; in 2011-12 it received state recognition as an Honor School of Excellence. It has recently been recognized as an Exemplar Model School by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

A committee comprised of last year’s principal and teacher of the year, a Wells Fargo representative and an Onslow County parent interview finalists and select a winner each year.

Nominees for POY include: Elaine Justice (Queens Creek Elementary); Lisa Peele (Swansboro Elementary); Brendan Gartner (Swansboro Middle); Jane Dennis (White Oak High); Maria Johnson (Northside High); Linda Kopek (Summersill Elementary); Chris Barnes (New Bridge Middle) and Vickie Brown (Meadow View Elementary).

Gross will compete with other regional award recipients. Eight regional finalists will be named, and then one principal among those will be selected as the 2014 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year. The regional Wells Fargo POY’s will be selected by February 2014. Each POY will receive a $150 cash award. Each of the eight regional Wells Fargo Principals of the Year receive a $1,000 cash award for their school and a $1,000 cash award for personal use. The state 2013 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year will receive $3,000 for his or her school and $3,000 for his or her personal or professional use.

The state-level winner will be announced in the spring of 2014 at a state event in Raleigh.

The POY program is sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and Wells Fargo.

The Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Award was introduced in 1984 to recognize outstanding leadership in North Carolina’s schools and acknowledge the vital role of the principal in establishing an environment where teachers thrive and students achie
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