The principal at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee has been named the 2020 National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Kerensa Wing learned of her selection at a surprise ceremony at her school, held as part of the 2019 celebration of National Principals Month.
"We are proud to honor Kerensa Wing, who has served as a model for compassionate school leadership, as the NASSP 2020 Principal of the Year," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP, in a press statement. "Kerensa has made a profound and deliberate impact on her students, teachers and administrators by creating an environment responsive to her school and community’s specific needs, while also allowing for innovation and entrepreneurship to ensure academic success and well-being."
In honoring Wing, the selection committee pointed to her concerted effort to hire teachers who are content experts and student-focused in their approach to teaching. Wing 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. As a result, student performance on state assessments rose between three percent and 13 percent in proficient and distinguished levels on all tests.
From the beginning, Wing took it upon herself to ensure that she not only hired and retained quality teachers as part of her team, but that those teachers were reflective of the student population. She doubled the number of Hispanic and African-American teachers in the school as well as hosted cultural competency training with her staff. According to Wing, she sees this as the most direct path toward equity for her students, and the teachers are able to build strong connections to foster improved well-being.
Wing has also reformed the Collins Hill High School advisement period of the school day, where students get a dedicated 27 minutes with a teacher who is responsible for connecting with and advocating for every student in their group. Instead of focusing on making scheduling the top priority, she worked with staff to ensure advisement periods provided a safe, connected environment for students and teachers alike.
Wing earned a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education from Oglethorpe University in Georgia. She later earned a master’s degree in secondary social studies from Georgia State University and an Education Specialist degree in leadership and supervision from Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. She also received a certificate from the Public Education Leadership Project at Harvard University in Massachusetts and is a graduate of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Quality-Plus Leader Academy-- Aspiring Principal Program.
"When you talk about servant leadership, Kerensa Wing immediately comes to mind. No matter the job, Mrs. Wing is up to the task,” said J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools. "The simple truth is that Mrs. Wing makes us all better—her students, her school, and our district—and I am proud to call her one of our own."