The search for the National Principal of the Year begins every spring as each state principal’s association selects its State Principals of the Year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selects three finalists.

2023 National Principal of the Year Finalists

David Arencibia

2022 Texas Principal of the Year
David Arencibia

Colleyville Middle School
Colleyville, TX

Dr. David Arencibia has taught, coached, and served as an administrator at all secondary levels in his 22 years of education. As an assistant principal, he was named the Texas Region 11 Assistant Principal of the Year. He is principal of Colleyville Middle School, which has received several accolades and distinctions under his leadership, including being named a Texas School to Watch, a Nationally Recognized Model Campus, and a National PTA School of Excellence. Under his leadership, the school has reached some of the highest academic scores in several subject areas in school history. He has helped build the partnership between the PTA and school, obtaining the highest participation numbers in school history for three years consecutively, with more members than there are students. He helps his school achieve excellence by focusing on the core values of positivity, team, strengths, and growth mindset. By modeling these core values, the school encourages students to excel both inside and outside of the classroom.

John Briquelet

2022 California Principal of the Year
John Briquelet

Whitney High School
Cerritos, CA

John Briquelet is the founding chancellor of Oxford Preparatory Academy’s new middle school. He is beginning his 34th year as a public educator and his 16th as a secondary principal, and he has served with distinction as the leader of three other campuses, including Whitney High School, U.S. News and World Report’s #1 high school in California and #14 in the nation. While serving the Wildcats, he provided students and staff with impactful anti-bias training and opened access to advanced coursework to all students, thereby creating a more equitable and inclusive school culture that is a model for others across California. Ultimately, he has brought about profoundly positive, systemic change on every campus he has served, improving students’ academic performance, increasing graduation and college admission rates, and reducing suspensions and expulsions. He continues to find great joy in his mission to ensure that every student reaches their potential.

Donna Hayward

2022 Connecticut Principal of the Year
Donna Hayward

Haddam Killingworth High School
Higganum, CT

Inspired by her own high school principal, Donna Hayward, principal of Haddam Killingworth High School, began her professional career as a high school mathematics teacher. She served as principal/assistant principal in Rocky Hill High School for a decade, during which time she markedly increased Advanced Placement opportunities and standardized test scores and reduced discipline, leading to her presenting effective leadership strategies at the State’s annual data conference and the NASSP’s national conference. She then served as principal of Suffield High School, where she opened a new Agriscience center and led her school to exceed prior academic performance in all areas. She is now the principal of Haddam Killingworth High School which earned the National Blue Ribbon in her fourth year. She was honored as the Connecticut Assistant Principal of the Year in 2006.