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OCPS Finalists for Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year

Orange County Public Schools is celebrating its finalists for the 2021-22 Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year. Finalists for the 2021-22 Teacher of the Year and Support Person of the Year will be released this month.

The finalists for Principal of the Year are…

Martha Chang, Lake Nona High School

As a long time, public school educator, Martha Chang continuously works toward increasing academic achievement, student safety and school pride. She emphasizes a rigorous curriculum that challenges the students she serves at Lake Nona High School. In only her second year as principal at Lake Nona High School, the school earned an “A” with the largest point increase of all secondary schools in the county.

She also increased career and technical education opportunities by adding horticulture, photography and law enforcement to course offerings.

Julie Helton, Castleview Elementary

With experience working as an administrator at the district-level and as a principal at the school-level, Julie Helton has demonstrated academic success with elementary and secondary students for nearly 20 years. Not only has she shown great leadership with students and parents, but with her peers as well. Dr. Helton has led a variety of trainings for principals and assistant principals, while also mentoring three principals this school year. In every school she has worked in, she has been highly regarded in her handling of difficult and high-pressure situations.

Lukeshia Miller, Phillis Wheatley Elementary

From a very young age Lukeshia Miller knew teaching others was her purpose. She has a proven track record of increasing student achievement in Title I schools by creating a positive culture and climate conducive to learning for all students. Ms. Miller has graciously and humbly served the students of OCPS for 21 years. As a principal, she has led two schools to high performing status as determined by the FLDOE. On a daily basis, Ms. Miller exhibits not only leadership and commitment, but works hard to build strong families and engaged communities.

The finalists for Assistant Principal of the Year are…

Tabitha Brown, Phillis Wheatley Elementary

Drive and determination, those are the words used to describe the work of Tabitha Brown. At Wheatley Elementary, she has been instrumental in leading the work that has assisted classroom teachers with their instructional delivery and effective planning. She strategically uses her relationship building skillset to establish and maintain high levels of trust with students, parents and staff. Ms. Brown is one of the most active employees on campus leading data meetings with teachers and students to help close the achievement gap.

Autherene Leighvard, Pinewood Elementary

Supporting social-emotional health and safety along with academic success are Autherene Leighvard’s top priorities. For 18 years with OCPS, she has provided positivity and enthusiasm with a can-do attitude. This past year, she was not only instrumental in implementing the safety procedures on campus, but she introduced the kindness challenge which ignited excitement and enthusiasm. Throughout the pandemic, she continued to reinforce the vision and rationale for the hard work of teachers and often engaged staff to create a shared vision approach. The entire experience helped develop strong school-wide routines and procedures which led to a positive classroom culture across the campus.

Kenya Nelson-Warren, Evans High School

To meet the needs of her school, Kenya Nelson-Warren says she works hard to remain versatile and flexible. She knows the value of effective communication and ensures it is maintained, especially during initiatives, assessments and expectations. Her principal describes her as a servant leader who represents the very best in leadership within the district. She finds creative solutions and inspires others to reach their full potential. She is the principal designee, when needed, and is trusted for her decision-making skills and collaborative abilities. She has a proven track record for increasing student achievement with a fierce determination in ensuring rich instruction and student support.

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