NEWS RELEASES 2015-16 :: MAY 12, 2016


E.E. Smith High School Principal Melody Chalmers today was named the 2016 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year. The Cumberland County Schools’ principal succeeds Pactolus School (Pitt County Schools) Principal Steve Lassiter.

State Superintendent June Atkinson commended Chalmers on her selection. “Melody is known as an innovative problem solver who is committed to the academic and personal growth of each of her students and teachers. Her staff and students truly benefit from the nurturing learning environment she promotes.”

Atkinson also thanked Wells Fargo for its faithful sponsorship of the state’s Principal of the Year program. “So many positive things are happening in our schools and it’s important to recognize those achievements. Wells Fargo gives us the opportunity to honor our exemplary public school leaders and showcase the wonderful things that are happening in their schools to ensure students graduate career and college ready.”

In naming Melody Chalmers the 2016 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year, Juan Austin, Wells Fargo Carolinas Community Affairs senior vice president, said, “Melody has a special ability to recruit and retain quality teachers in her school, and student achievement is remarkable. Our education system has never been at a more critical juncture than now and with administrators like Melody we all see how dedication and effort connects with students, staff and parents. I’m pleased that we have this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of outstanding North Carolina educators who work tirelessly to help our children achieve academic success.”

Chalmers received a bachelor’s degree in English Education in 1998 from North Carolina A&T State University and a master’s degree in School Administration in 2005 from Fayetteville State University.

She has served her entire administrative career with Cumberland County Schools having served as assistant principal at Ezekiel Ezra Smith High and Warrenwood Elementary from 2004-09, principal at Cross Creek Early College High from 2009-2011, and now principal of Ezekiel Ezra Smith High.

In addition to being recognized as the 2016 Sandhills Region Wells Fargo Principal of the Year, Chalmers received the 2016 Lewis Chapel MBC Black History Living Legends Award for Education, the 2015 Cumberland County Schools Principal of the Year, the 2013 NCPAPA Distinguished Leadership in Practice, and was named to Fayetteville Observer’s Top 20 Under 40 list in 2012.

She has presented at a number of conferences including the Transition to High School Conference (Aug. 2015), Collaborative Conference on Student Achievement (March 2013 and 2012), and the New Schools Project Summer Institute (June 2010).

A statewide selection committee selected Chalmers from among eight regional finalists following interviews and on-site visits. The other regional finalists were:

  • Northeast: William Peele III, Bertie Middle (Bertie County Schools);
  • Southeast: Molly White, Lincoln Elementary (Brunswick County Schools);
  • North Central: Matthew Hunt, Northern High (Durham Public Schools);
  • Piedmont-Triad: Wayne Duggins Jr., South Stokes High (Stokes County Schools);
  • Southwest: Maureen Furr, South Mecklenburg High (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools);
  • Northwest: Kelly Nicholson, Oxford Elementary (Catawba County Schools); and
  • Western: Peggy Marshall, Sugarloaf Elementary (Henderson County Schools).

Each regional finalist receives $1,000 for personal use and $1,000 for his or her school.

As Wells Fargo Principal of the Year, Chalmers receives $3,000 for personal use and $3,000 for her school. She also receives professional development and resources supporting global awareness in the curriculum for her staff thanks to Education First Tours, and a custom-made NC Principal of the Year signet ring and pendant from Jostens Inc.

She will continue to lead her school for the next year however, Wells Fargo will furnish her with a stipend to travel across the state serving as an ambassador for education. She will serve as a member of the State Superintendent’s Principals’ Advisory Committee, and as an advisor to the State Board of Education and the Board of Directors for the NC Public School Forum. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will sponsor her enrollment and completion of the Education Policy Fellowship Program.  She also will chair the 2017 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Selection Committee.

This year marks a 33-year partnership between the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and The Wells Fargo Foundation. Additional information about the NC Principal of the Year program, is available online. You also can follow the North Carolina Principal of the Year finalists on Twitter at #NCTOYPOY.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.