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Principals in NYC, Dallas and Hawaii Receive National Honors

  • NYCPrincipal Lisa SperoniLisa Speroni has served 16 years as principal at P.S. 253, the Magnet School of Multicultural Humanities, in Brooklyn, N.Y., which serves 955 students and where more than 50 languages are spoken. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012 left the school and surrounding community in ruins, she and other school personnel visited the neighborhood checking on the status of students’ families. Speroni also created a distribution center at the school for basic supplies and arranged for a donation of more than 500 pairs of new sneakers for students.

    Sandra Barrios is the principal of Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School in Dallas. Students at the school come from 50 countries and many have lived in refugee camps and have not experienced a formal school setting. Barrios has introduced the concept of personalized learning, which focuses on small group instruction and personalized pathways based on students’ learner profiles and performance data. In three years under her leadership, the school has transformed from a low-performing school to an “A” school as designated by the Texas Education Agency.  Dallas Principal Sandra Barrios

    Alisa Bender is principal of Lt. Col Horrace Meek Hickam Elementary School, which is located on an air force base in Hawaii.  The school sees approximately 150 students come and go each year, so Bender created a center to ease the transition of new students to the school. She also placed a stronger emphasis on strengthening the school’s intervention efforts to address students’ social, emotional and mental health needs by setting up a school-based team focused on social and emotional learning and partnering with the University of Hawaii Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. 

    Hawaii Principal Alisa Bender

    In recognition of their efforts, these three principals were recently selected to receive the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership presented by the U.S. Department of Education. The award was given to 10 school principals from across the country for their outstanding work and the vital role they play in guiding their students and schools to excellence, often under challenging circumstances. All of the winning principals were from schools that received a 2019 National Blue Ribbon Award.