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NEWS RELEASES 2007-08 :: APRIL 3, 2008


A.L. Brown High School Principal Debra Morris today was named the 2008 Wachovia North Carolina Principal of the Year during a luncheon ceremony held in Raleigh. The Kannapolis City Schools' principal succeeds Craig Hill, who is currently an assistant superintendent with Wilson County Public Schools.

"The Principal of the Year Program is a way for Wachovia to enthusiastically demonstrate its support of public education and to recognize exceptional administrators, such as Dr. Morris," said Juan Austin, Wachovia Senior Vice President and Community Affairs Manager for the Carolinas and Virginia. "Wachovia is not only a financial services company, but it strives to be a good corporate citizen. By partnering in worthwhile programs that support and reinforce worthwhile goals, we make significant contributions to the communities in which we live and work. Support of public education is one of those worthwhile goals."

State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee commended Morris on her appointment saying, "Morris' obvious commitment and enthusiasm to ensure that all of her students succeed both academically and personally are clear to all when you see the number and variety of programs, projects and activities she makes available to her staff and students. I applaud her and her staff's dedication to the success of A.L. Brown High and the students they serve," Lee said. He added that he is looking forward to working with Morris when she becomes an advisor to the State Board of Education.

Lee also commended Wachovia Corporation for its faithful sponsorship and coverage of all program costs associated with the state's Principal of the Year Program. "We are incredibly fortunate to have such commendable leaders in our public schools. Without Wachovia's sponsorship, we would not be able to recognize their dedication to their staff and students and to the success of their schools."

As A.L. Brown High's principal, Morris has implemented a number of special projects/programs that have had a positive effect on student character and academics. These include a school dress code that embraces uniforms, a Freshman Academy that helps ninth graders acclimate to high school by working with a group of core teachers and making connections with upperclassmen who mentor the students, an afterschool computer class called NovaNet that enables students to work toward credits or credit recovery in order to graduate, and a book study with football players that has shown the school community that football players are more than just "about football."

Morris attributes her success as a principal to her experiences as an athlete and high school coach. "When you're a coach, you're a motivator. My staff, who are my team, must all be committed to reaching common goals through hard work and dedication," Morris said.

Morris received her Bachelor of Arts in English with a Minor in Political Science from Appalachian State University, a Master of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a Master of Arts in School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, the North Carolina Principals' and Assistant Principals' Association, the Greater Cabarrus Reading Association, and Phi Delta Kappa.

Morris has received a number of honors including being named the National Association of Secondary School Principals' and Met Life's Principal of the Year for North Carolina for 2007, Kannapolis City Schools' Principal of the Year for 2007, a regional and state winner in the adult poetry division of the North Carolina Reading Association 2007, and was one of 10 American educators selected to represent the United States as a delegate to study civics education in Saratov, Russia by the Partners in Education Program in 2000.

Morris was selected from among eight regional finalists following interviews and on-site visits by a statewide selection committee comprised of the previous year's principal of the year, the current teacher of the year, a member of the Principals' Executive Program, a Wachovia representative, and a nonvoting member of the NC Department of Public Instruction.

The other regional finalists were: North Central Region: Cathy Moore, Sanderson High (Wake County Schools); Northeast Region: Arty Tillett, First Flight High (Dare County Schools); Northwest Region: Danny Cartner, South Davie Middle (Davie County Schools); Southeast Region: Lori Howard, Clyde Erwin Elementary (Onslow County Schools); Sandhills/South Central Region: Vicky Kirby, Pate Gardner Elementary (Scotland County Schools); Piedmont-Triad/Central Region: Nakia Hardy, Broadview Middle (Alamance-Burlington Schools); and West Region: Thomas Keever, Valley Springs Middle (Buncombe County Schools). Each regional finalist received $1,500 for their school and $1,500 for personal use.

Morris will receive an additional $3,000 for her school and $3,000 for personal use. She also will serve a one-year term as advisor to the State Board of Education.

The Wachovia North Carolina Principal of the Year program is sponsored in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Principals' Executive Program, and Wachovia Corporation. In its 24th year, the program provides a unique opportunity to recognize outstanding principals from North Carolina public schools.

For more information, please contact the NCDPI's Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.