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WILTON — Granville County Schools Superintendent Alisa McLean and district staff on Wednesday visited Wilton Elementary School for a surprise announcement, naming Principal Sheila Atkins the 2019-20 GCPS Principal of the Year.
Atkins, who was chosen by her principal peers for the honor, was called in to an unscheduled faculty meeting and was greeted by cheers, balloons, flowers, cake and a sparkling tiara to celebrate the occasion.
McLean placed the tiara on Atkins’ head before saying to the cheering school staff, “I am so proud to announce this year’s winner to you, the faculty of this wonderful school,” McLean said. “Mrs. Atkins is so deserving of this special honor, but I want you to know that it also reflects on the amazing job all of the staff at this school do every day for our students. Wilton Elementary School is truly on the move.”
Atkins enters her 23rd year as an educator, all of which she has served in Granville County Public Schools. She began her career as a teacher assistant and bus driver, then worked as an elementary teacher and assistant principal. She has served as a principal for the past six years, serving at both Wilton Elementary and Joe Toler Oak Hill Elementary School.
Atkins earned her undergraduate degrees from North Carolina Central University and ECU, and her graduate degree from N.C. State University.
“I am so blessed to receive this honor, but you know I could not do anything without all of you,” Atkins said while fighting back tears of joy Wednesday. “Together we are a team, and the most important thing in our work is the children. We are all in this together.”
The entire faculty cheered and celebrated the occasion with pride, with many also noting that for the first time in recent memory, both the Teacher of the Year (Jade Currin) and Principal of the Year are from the same school. Both educators will go on to compete at the regional and state level to represent their respective professions.
Wilton Elementary School is a “School of Choice,” which means it is open for enrollment for all students who reside in Granville County. The school was recently recognized for honors at the state level by being named a “Lighthouse” school — a distinction earned by less than 15 percent of schools in the country for its student leadership program.