RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — The nine regional candidates have been announced who are in the running for the 2023 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year.

Trent Park Elementary School Principal Ashley Faulkenberry is the Southeast regional winner. She received her honor back in October. She joins eight other principals who have been nominated for the state award. Dr. Patrick Greene, principal of Greene Central High School, won the 2022 award.

The Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Award was introduced in 1984 to recognize the critical role of the principal in establishing a culture that supports the pursuit and achievement of academic excellence in North Carolina schools. The 2023 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year will be announced on May 19.

The nine regional Wells Fargo principals of the year are:

  • Northeast: John Lassiter, Hertford Grammar (Perquimans County Schools)
  • Sandhills: Jim Butler, Richmond Senior High (Richmond County Schools)
  • Northwest: Jessica Gravel, Drexel Elementary (Burke County Public Schools)
  • Piedmont-Triad: Donna Bledsoe, Cedar Ridge Elementary (Surry County Schools)
  • Southeast: Ashley Faulkenberry, Trent Park Elementary (Craven County Schools)
  • North Central: Dr. William Logan, Hillside High (Durham Public Schools)
  • Western: Ruafika Cobb, Ira B. Jones Elementary (Asheville City Schools)
  • Southwest: Tonya Williams, Concord Middle (Cabarrus County Schools)
  • Charter: T.J. Worrell, NE Academy for Aerospace and Advance Technologies (Elizabeth City)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said that strong and effective principals – such as this year’s regional Wells Fargo finalists – are essential to the goal of ensuring that every student in North Carolina have a highly qualified, excellent teacher.

“A principal sets the standard,” Truitt said. “They lead by example for everyone in their school – students, educators, support staff and everyone else who walks through that building. Leaders in education have the ability to improve outcomes for so many. These nine principals exemplify what it means to be a truly strong and effective leader.”

Tabari Wallace, special advisor to the superintendent for principal engagement and a former principal at West Craven High School, also emphasized the importance of a principal’s leadership skills.

“Excellent principals are true difference-makers in their schools,” said Wallace, the 2018 state winner. “These innovative leaders show up and give their best every day for their schools and change lives. I can’t wait to see what phenomenal work this group of dedicated leaders in education do as 2023 Wells Fargo Regional Principals of the Year.”

Learn more about the program here.