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NEWS RELEASES 2008-09 :: APRIL 2, 2009


South Brunswick High School Principal Vann Pennell today was named the 2009 Wachovia North Carolina Principal of the Year during a luncheon ceremony held in Raleigh. The Brunswick County Schools' principal succeeds Debra Morris, principal of A.L. Brown High School (Kannapolis City Schools.)

In naming the 2009 North Carolina Wachovia Principal of the Year, Juan Austin, Wachovia's Senior Vice President and Community Affairs Manager for the Carolinas and Virginia said, "The Principal of the Year Program is a way for Wachovia to demonstrate the value we place on education. It also allows us to recognize and honor exceptional administrators across the state such as South Brunswick High School Principal Vann Pennell for outstanding work in preparing young people who are our future employees and customers to succeed in a global economy. 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 Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson commended the new Principal of the Year for his many years of service in education. "Vann Pennell has spent nearly three decades serving North Carolina's public schools as a coach, teacher and now a well-respected and effective school administrator," said Atkinson. "He leads his school with courage and compassion and is a role model for educators across our state."

"Mr. Pennell will bring the energy, wisdom and experience that earned him the Principal of the Year distinction to the State Board of Education when he joins us as an advisor in July," said State Board of Education Chairman and CEO Bill Harrison. "Mr. Pennell and I worked together on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for a number of years and I look forward to working with him again."

Harrison also commended Wachovia Corporation for its faithful sponsorship of the state's Principal of the Year Program.

"All of the Principal of the Year candidates boost the quality of education in North Carolina in so many ways and we are grateful to Wachovia for making it possible for us to publicly show our appreciation for all they do," Harrison said.

As South Brunswick High's principal, Pennell led the effort to develop the Brunswick County Schools' Attendance Policy. He also helped establish the International Studies/Travel class and endorsed the Aquaculture Program to promote flounder research at the school. For the 2007-08 school year, South Brunswick High School was ranked the 863rd Top Public High School in the Nation by Newsweek magazine.

Pennell credits his success at South Brunswick High to his "family" of hardworking and talented teachers and staff. "One of the strongest qualities a leader can possess is to admit what one does not know and hire those that know more than the leader and let them go to work," he said.

Pennell received his Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education, Master of Arts in Education, and Education Specialist degrees all from East Carolina University. He is a member of the North Carolina Association of Secondary Administrators, the National Association of Secondary Principals and the Brunswick County Association of School Administrators. He also is a former president and current member of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

Pennell has received a number of honors including being named the Camden County Principal of the Year for 1991-1992 and 1993-1994 and the North Eastern Regional Principal of the Year in 1994. He also has been named a Conference Football Coach of the Year, Area Football Coach of the Year and Williamston High School Kiwanis Teacher of the Year.

Pennell 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 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The other regional finalists were: North Central Region: Matthew Wight, Apex High (Wake County Schools); Northeast Region: Donald Sisson, Northeastern High (Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Schools); Northwest Region: DeAnna Finger, Tuttle Elementary (Catawba County Schools); Southwest Region: Steve Hall, Bruns Avenue Elementary (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools); Sandhills/South Central Region: Jeffrey Jernigan, Cape Fear High (Cumberland County Schools); Piedmont-Triad/Central Region: Sabre Robinson, Eastlawn Elementary (Alamance-Burlington Schools); and West Region: Ronette Dill, Saluda Elementary (Polk County Schools). Each regional finalist received $1,000 for their school and $1,000 for personal use.

Pennell will receive an additional $3,000 for his school and $3,000 for personal use. He 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 26th 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.