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Edgecombe County Schools leader named 2019 NC Principal of the Year

May 10, 2019 GMT

<!--[if gte vml 1]><v:shapetype id=“_x0000_t75” coordsize=“21600,21600″ o:spt=“75” o:preferrelative=“t” path=“m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe” filled=“f” stroked=“f”> <v:stroke joinstyle=“miter”/> <v:formulas> <v:f eqn=“if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0”/> <v:f eqn=“sum @0 1 0″/> <v:f eqn=“sum 0 0 @1”/> <v:f eqn=“prod @2 1 2″/> <v:f eqn=“prod @3 21600 pixelWidth”/> <v:f eqn=“prod @3 21600 pixelHeight”/> <v:f eqn=“sum @0 0 1”/> <v:f eqn=“prod @6 1 2″/> <v:f eqn=“prod @7 21600 pixelWidth”/> <v:f eqn=“sum @8 21600 0″/> <v:f eqn=“prod @7 21600 pixelHeight”/> <v:f eqn=“sum @10 21600 0″/> </v:formulas> <v:path o:extrusionok=“f” gradientshapeok=“t” o:connecttype=“rect”/> <o:lock v:ext=“edit” aspectratio=“t”/> </v:shapetype><v:shape id=“_x0000_s1026″ type=”#_x0000_t75″ alt=“POY 2019” style=‘position:absolute;margin-left:59.05pt;margin-top:0;width:110.25pt; height:165pt;z-index:251658240;mso-wrap-distance-left:5.25pt; mso-wrap-distance-top:0;mso-wrap-distance-right:5.25pt; mso-wrap-distance-bottom:0;mso-position-horizontal:right; mso-position-horizontal-relative:text;mso-position-vertical-relative:line’ o:allowoverlap=“f”> <v:imagedata src=“https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/fancy_images/NCSBE/2019/05/2568860/2687653/nc-matthew2_crop.jpg”/> <w:wrap type=“square”/> </v:shape><![endif]-->Matthew Bristow-Smith, a past regional teacher of the year who has led Edgecombe Early College High School for the past five years, was named the Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year at an awards luncheon Friday in Cary.

The small, application-based high school earned an “A” school performance grade and exceeded its growth target in each of the last four years during Bristow-Smith’s tenure, according to a news release from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The former high school English teacher said in his nomination portfolio that he is driven by a sense of hunger that keeps him focused on helping students and teachers grow and succeed.

“We dream big, set goals, implement action steps, adapt as needed, measure our results, and start the whole process all over again,” Bristow-Smith said. “We are never satisfied. We are continually improving. When we fail, we learn from our failure, and when we succeed, learn from that success and set new goals.”

State Superintendent Mark Johnson underscored the critical role that principals play in their schools.

“The best principals lead by example and with humility,” Johnson said. “They support and guide their staff in ways that motivate and inspire around shared goals and values that focus squarely on students and their success. All eight of the principals seated here today are great examples of that kind of leadership.”

Before joining Edgecombe Early College as principal in 2014, Bristow-Smith spent 16 years an English teacher at Tarboro High School, where he was chairman of the school improvement team and led efforts to establish a freshman academy and to restore AP courses to the school district, among other efforts. He was a finalist for N.C. Teacher of the Year in 2010, from the North Central Region of the state.

As a principal, Bristow-Smith developed a countywide initiative, the Scholar Teachers Program, a public-private partnership modeled after the NC Teaching Fellows program to attract and support high school students interested in teaching careers. The prospective teachers receive additional coursework, internships in local schools and student loans repayable through teaching service in Edgecombe schools.

Bristow-Smith earned a bachelor of science degree in English education from Appalachian State University, which&nbsp;he attended as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, and a master&nbsp;of school administration from N.C. State University through the Northeast Leadership Academy.

The other regional Principal of the Year finalists for 2019 were:

Regional winners will each receive $1,000 for personal use and $1,000 for their schools.

As principal of the year, Bristow-Smith receives $3,000 for personal use and $3,000 for his school. He also receives professional development and resources supporting global awareness in the curriculum for his staff from Education First Tours, a custom­-made N.C. Principal of the Year signet ring and pendant from Jostens Inc., a complimentary two-night stay at the new Hampton Inn &amp; Suites Downtown Chapel Hill-Carrboro, and resources to help combat child hunger from the Principal of the Year program’s newest sponsor, No Kids Hungry NC.

While continuing to lead his school for the next year, Wells Fargo will furnish him with a stipend to travel across the state serving as an ambassador for education. He will serve as an adviser to the State Board of Education and to the board of directors for the Public School Forum of North Carolina. He will also compete for national recognition through the N.C. Principals and Assistant Principals Association and will serve on the 2020 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year selection committee.