Commissioner Stewart Names Florida’s 2017 Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year


June 22, 2017

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Commissioner Stewart Names Florida’s 2017 Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year

Orlando, Fla., June 22, 2017 – Yesterday evening, during the Celebration for School Leaders, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart named Dr. Rachel Shelley, of Sarasota County, as the 2017 Principal of the Year and Kelly Stedman, of Lee County, as the 2017 Assistant Principal of the Year. These school leaders were honored for contributing to increased student performance; safe learning environments; and successful partnerships with parents and community members.

“School leaders set the tone for educators, students, parents, and community members, and they are integral to student success,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “Dr. Rachel Shelley and Kelly Stedman have demonstrated unwavering dedication to Florida’s students, and I am honored to recognize them with this prestigious award. The exceptional leadership that they and their colleagues throughout Florida offer is essential to ensuring students receive a world-class education.

Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership

The recipient of the 2017 Principal of the Year was awarded a cash prize of $5,000 and $1,000 for her school. The three state finalists were awarded a check for $1,500 and a $375 check for their school, and each district winner was awarded a check for $300 and a $100 check for their school.

Dr. Rachel Shelley, Booker High School, Sarasota County

With more than 28 years of experience in K-12 education, Dr. Rachel Shelley has been praised by her colleagues for her dedication to helping every student succeed and for relationship-based leadership. She motivates students with her mantra, “Every student is college and/or career bound.” Dr. Shelley is a hands-on instructional leader who understands the value of data, and she tracks her school and students’ performance measures to help her make informed decisions.

Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award

The 2017 Assistant Principal of the Year was awarded a cash prize of $2,500 and $500 for her school. The three state finalists were awarded a $1,000 check and a $275 check for their school, and each district winner was awarded a check for $200 and a $50 check for their school. 

Kelly Stedman, James Stephens International Academy, Lee County

Kelly Stedman has been the assistant principal at James Stephens International Academy for the last year. Her colleagues expressed an appreciation for her passionate support of students and the way in which she helps teachers grow. She stands out among her peers for her ability to make parents, staff and students feel valued and cared for. No matter the situation, Stedman is described as always having a positive attitude and tackling every challenge she faces. 

The Celebration for School Leaders was sponsored by State Farm; Jostens; Council for Educational Change; and Center for Educational Leadership. Earlier in the day, the Florida Department of Education hosted the Commissioner’s Summit for Principals, which was sponsored by the Florida Lottery. The Commissioner’s Summit for Principals provided professional development for the district-level principal and assistant principal of year award recipients.

Candidates for these awards were nominated by the superintendent from their respective school district. Complete lists of candidates from each district for both categories are available online: 2016-17 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership District Winners and 2016-17 Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award District Winners.

The Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership was established in 1988 to recognize Florida principals for their contributions to their schools and communities. The Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award was established in 1997 to honor assistant principals that have utilized teamwork and leadership to increase student achievement and greatly improved school environments.

For more information about Florida’s educator recognition and recruitment programs, visit http://www.fldoe.org/teaching/recognition-recruitment.

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