RALEIGH — Surry County elementary principal Donna L. Bledsoe was named the 2023 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year at a ceremony held in Raleigh on May 19.
Bledsoe has been the principal of Cedar Ridge Elementary School since 2016. In 2022, the school was named by the North Carolina Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development as one of two Lighthouse Schools for its positive atmosphere and advancement of student achievement and innovation.
“Mrs. Bledsoe and her staff truly have put students at the center of all that they do,” State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said in a statement. “It’s one thing to say that and another thing entirely to make it happen, every day, in every class and with every student. It’s clear that Cedar Ridge does. That takes committed and visionary leadership.”
Bledsoe earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Appalachian State University in 2004. Since then, she has only worked in the Surry County School district. Her first role was as a third-grade teacher. She also served as an elementary school assistant principal before being promoted to principal in 2015. She also obtained a Master of Arts degree as a curriculum specialist from Appalachian State in 2008.
“Congratulations to Mrs. Bledsoe and Cedar Ridge Elementary on this well-deserved honor,” said Juan Austin, Community Impact and Sustainability Senior Manager for Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo is proud to continue our support for the North Carolina Principal of the Year program and to celebrate administrators like Mrs. Bledsoe who serve as leaders and role models for all of us. They inspire us through their tireless commitment to their schools, students and communities.”
As the Principal of the Year, Bledsoe will travel the state as an ambassador for the profession during the 2023-24 school year. As the 2023 winner, she receives $3,000 for personal use, $3,000 for their school, an engraved vase, a custom-made N.C. Principal of the Year signet ring from Jostens, and resources to help combat child hunger from No Kid Hungry NC.
“As a staff, we reimagined our school mission, vision and belief statements around our organizational values,” Bledsoe said in her submission to the Principal of the Year selection committee. She also said her staff decided on their main purpose “to do what is best for students.”
The other finalists for the 2023 award included:
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)
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)