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Cumberland County Schools' 2022 Principal of the Year: Rewriting the Playbook

With all of the challenges since the 2020 school year, there has been a rarely recognized group of professionals behind the curtain supporting their students and staff: principals. From facilitating virtual-education training for teachers to maintaining school-to-family connections, Cumberland County Schools' (CCS) 2022 Administrators of the Year did it all with servant leadership and respect.
 
During the district's virtual celebration event this evening, themed: The Great Comeback: Defying All Odds to Lead Impactfully, CCS announced Joy Williams, a 23-year veteran educator, as CCS' 2022 Principal of the Year (POY) and Dr. Queesha Tillman, a 16-year veteran educator, as CCS' 2022 Assistant Principal of the Year (APOY).
 
Williams, who is the principal of Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School (LNJMS), said one of the most important things she does is show that she and her administration welcome learning opportunities from her staff. By building trust and ensuring that they "are treated as professionals at every turn," Williams is able to recognize and utilize the strengths of LNJMS staff members to ensure continuous improvement.
 
Williams takes every opportunity to foster and support professional development for her team and never shies away from evaluating current practices with respect to the individual needs of her school. Education and school administration is not one-size-fits-all. Williams collaborates with her team to consistently analyze standards, data and trends within LNJMS to ensure their methods and content selections are relevant and engaging for students. "We strive to find real-world examples that include culturally relevant language for students which allows them to relate to what is being taught," said Williams.
 
Williams started her career with CCS as a classroom teacher at Douglas Byrd Middle School after graduating from Fayetteville State University (FSU). After three years of teaching, Williams knew she wanted to become a principal and made it her main goal. She continued to obtain certifications and additional education to earn her Master of School Administration, also from FSU, and worked her way through the ranks as a Literacy Coach and an Assistant Principal before reaching her goal as a principal at Howard Health & Life Sciences High School (now Cumberland Polytechnic High School).
 
From the moment she set her mind to becoming a principal, Williams has maintained that honesty leads to understanding and staying humble is the best way to be a model for her staff. Williams stated, "They trust that I will do my level best to resolve their issue with answers whether or not the answer is one that is favorable. I think showing teachers that I am open to asking for help provides them with a model for future occasions when they might not know an answer and need help."
 
As CCS' 2022 Principal of the Year, Williams will receive:
  • A trophy award from the Cumberland County Board of Education (CCBOE);
  • Flowers from Cumberland County Schools;
  • A commemorative custom-designed CCS’ Principal of the Year ring from Jostens;
  • Season Tickets to Fayetteville Marksmen Hockey;
  • Dinner for Two at Chris's Steak & Seafood House;
  • The Recharge Package from Renaissance Day Spa & Alternative Wellness; and
  • $3,000 from Lafayette Ford Lincoln ($1,000 for personal use and $2,000 for use in her school).
 All 2022 Principal of the Year Finalists will receive:
  • A plaque-certificate from the Cumberland County Board of Education; and
  • A $100 stipend, iPad Mini, a professional photo session and photos and 1 C.E.U. credit from Cumberland County Schools.
 Dr. Queesha Tillman, CCS' 2022 Assistant Principal of the Year and the assistant principal of Loyd Auman Elementary School, began her educational journey in 2001 after graduating from Fayetteville State University. She joined CCS in 2002, as an Exceptional Children's Teacher. Dr. Tillman's leadership creed centers around leading by example with trust, mutual respect and positivity.
 
As CCS' 2022 Assistant Principal of the Year, Dr. Tillman will receive: 
  • A trophy award from the Cumberland County Board of Education;
  • Flowers and an iPad Mini from Cumberland County Schools;
  • Dinner for Two at Carrabba’s Italian Grill;
  • A Swedish Massage at the Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa ; and
  • $800 from the Cumberland County Association of Principals and Assistant Principals (CCAPAP) -- ($400 for personal use and $400 for use in her school).
 All 2022 Assistant Principal of the Year Finalists will receive:
  • A plaque-certificate from the Cumberland County Board of Education;
  • 1 C.E.U. credit and a professional photo session and photos from Cumberland County Schools; and
  • A monetary gift of $100 from the Cumberland County Association of Principals and Assistant Principals (CCAPAP).
To all of the 2022 Administrators of the Year finalists, CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr., said "Each of you premier professionals, who give 110 percent every day have defied seemingly insurmountable odds to lead impactfully during a challenging year. We see you. We know how hard you have been working and we appreciate each and every one of you."
 
CCS is thankful for the generous donation and event sponsorship from LaFayette Ford Lincoln as well as the donations from all of the contributing community organizations.
 
To learn more about CCS' 2022 Principal of the Year, Joy Williams, tune-in to WFNC 640 AM's Good Morning Fayetteville with Goldy tomorrow, Tuesday, October 19 at 7:40 a.m. to hear tonight's event host, Jeff 'Goldy' Goldberg interview Williams live.
 
To view an encore of the virtual celebration, visit the district's YouTube channel.
 
Joy Williams 2022 POYQueesha Tillman 2022 APOY