For Washington Elementary School Principal Sandra Edwards, accepting the status quo has never been an option. Her dedication and pursuit of excellence paid off in a big way on October 25, as she was named the School District of Palm Beach County’s 2017-2018 Principal of the Year during a ceremony at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.
Speaking on her accomplishments as a principal, Superintendent Robert Avossa emphasized Edwards’ relationships with her students and staff as being key to her success.
“It is no surprise to me that she knows the name of each child at Washington,” Dr. Avossa said. “Sandra prides herself on relationships, trust and making the best decisions – even if they are hard decisions – for her students. This is the true mark of an exceptional principal.”
Edwards, who has a total of 22 years of experience as an educator, began serving the District in 2001. She started as a kindergarten teacher at Pine Grove Elementary before moving on to become a school counselor at Orchard View Elementary and an assistant principal at Odyssey Middle before taking the helm at Washington Elementary School in 2012.
When she took over as principal at Washington Elementary, a Title I school with 96% of the student population receiving free or reduced lunch benefits, the school had received a grade of “C” for the previous school year and had been placed on a list from the state as being one of the lowest performing schools in Florida.
Edwards sprang into action, focusing on the professional development of staff and the building of personal relationships with students as her top priorities. She continued building relationships with all stakeholders in the years that followed, challenging parents and the Riviera Beach community to become more involved in supporting the school and their children.
The end of the 2016-2017 school year brought a welcome reward for the hard work of the students and staff at Washington Elementary School. The school raised its grade from an “F” to a “B” in the state accountability system, and 3rd graders improved their English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency by 29% over the previous school year, the highest increase of any school in Palm Beach County. Washington Elementary students had exceeded expectations, ranking in the 99th percentile in the state for ELA learning gains.
“To receive data like this, it took hard work, perseverance and a belief system that all students could learn,” Edwards shared.
Sandra Edwards will be honored at the November 15 School Board meeting and will represent Palm Beach County in the state of Florida’s Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership competition. The winner will be announced later this year.
The District would like to congratulate each of the 2017-2018 Principal of the Year nominees for their outstanding contributions to education in Palm Beach County. This year’s nominees were Angela Avery Moore of Glades Central High School, Stacey Quiñones of Morikami Park Elementary School and Dr. Ana Arce-Gonzalez of South Grade Elementary School.
The District would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the Principal of the Year program: Schumacher Auto Group, Office Depot/Office Max, Hilton Doubletree of Palm Beach Gardens, Sam’s Club, Optucorp, Calvo Realty, AAA Auto Club South, Dunkin’ Donuts, Peter Piper Pizza, Ideal Lending Solutions and Alpha Media Group.