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.
2024 National Principal of the Year Finalists
2023 Maryland Principal of the Year
Marley Middle School
Glen Burnie, MD
Principal of Marley Middle School for nearly a decade, Kimberly Winterbottom stands out for her transformative leadership. Infusing classrooms with collaboration, she’s revolutionized structures, culture, and strategies to elevate teaching proficiency and boost student outcomes, narrowing achievement disparities. Mrs. Winterbottom’s unwavering focus on safety and stellar instruction catalyzed Marley Middle’s unprecedented turnaround. The school thrives with data-informed practices, while its uplifting ambiance earns consistent accolades from staff. Recognized as a 2022 district Principal of the Year finalist, Winterbottom’s ceaseless commitment extends to her staff, students, and community, underlined by her relentless pursuit of self-improvement and innovation.
2023 Virginia Principal of the Year
Bayside Sixth Grade Campus
Virginia Beach, VA
Sham Bevel is an inspiring educator whose journey began in 2006 as a middle school science teacher in Norfolk, VA. Throughout her career, she has continuously evolved, teaching all levels of middle school science and even offering Biology to eighth graders for high school credit, showcasing her commitment to academic excellence. Her leadership roles extended to science department chair and data team leader, but her true impact was recognized when she became one of the esteemed science instructional coaches nationwide. Embracing new horizons, she ventured to Abu Dhabi, UAE, where she taught sixth-grade math and science, and led as the middle school department chair. In 2015, Virginia beckoned her back, and she took on the role of Secondary Science Specialist for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Her connection to the middle school community brought her back to the building, and she now proudly serves as the principal of Bayside Sixth Grade Campus, recognized as the 2023 National ESEA Distinguished Award recipient. Her dedication and passion for education continue to uplift both students and staff alike.
2023 Wisconsin Principal of the Year
Brookfield East High School
Andrew Farley’s journey from a high school social studies teacher to the principal of Brookfield East High School (BEHS) in Brookfield, Wisconsin has been nothing short of remarkable. For the past 10 years, he has spearheaded BEHS, propelling it to the pinnacle of excellence as the top public high school in Wisconsin for three consecutive years, as recognized by Niche. At the heart of Farley’s vision lies a deep commitment to the whole-student experience, underscored by a school culture firmly rooted in the mission of “Dedicated to Academic and Human Excellence.” Embodying his belief in the transformative power of education, Farley has been an inspirational faculty leader of Wisconsin’s first Hope Squad—a student-nominated leadership team dedicated to reducing teenage suicide and destigmatizing mental health support and resources. Beyond his role as principal, Farley’s influence extends to developing future educational leaders. He facilitates state-level conferences and teaches master’s level coursework at Carroll University, fostering the leadership capacity and impact of all to create thriving school communities. With passion, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of excellence, Andrew Farley continues to shape the educational landscape and uplift the lives of countless students at BEHS.