Hough High School principal Teresa Cockerham is among six finalists named Wednesday for the 2012-13 Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Principal of the Year. The finalists were picked by their peers for the award, which is to be announced by next week.
Here are biographies of the six finalists, provided by CMS:TERESA COCKERHAM – HOUGH
Northeast Zone finalist and W.A. Hough High Principal Dr. Teresa Cockerham has been an educator for almost 30 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and a master’s in educational administration from UNCC. She earned her doctoral degree in education from UNCC in 2005. Dr. Cockerham began teaching in CMS in 1983, as an interim teacher at East Mecklenburg and Olympic high schools. She went on to teach at Olympic full time before becoming an assistant principal at what was then Smith Junior High. She worked as an AP at Smith and South Mecklenburg before becoming principal of Eastway Middle in 1997. She remained at Eastway until 2005 when she became principal at Providence High. Dr. Cockerham opened Hough High in 2009. Dr. Cockerham won the Billy Wireman International Educator Award in 2004. She was a principal of the year finalist in 2004 and 2007. She was the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Principal of the Year in 2000 and 2002. She currently supervises principal interns for Winthrop University. MAUREEN FURR – SOUTH MECK HIGH
Southwest Zone finalist and South Mecklenburg High Principal Dr. Maureen Furr has been an educator since graduating from Allegheny College in 1975. Dr. Furr has a master’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in environmental studies from Montclair State College. She received her doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Furr joined CMS in 1992, after working as a teacher, principal and district administrator in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. She was the first principal of South Charlotte Middle. In 2002 she opened Jay M. Robinson Middle and remained there until moving to South Meck in 2006. The National Middle Schools Association named Dr. Furr as one of three Distinguished Middle Level Educators in 2004, the inaugural year of this national recognition. The North Carolina Middle Schools Association gave her the 2006 C. Kenneth McEwin Distinguished Service Award. She was also a finalist for the CMS Wachovia Principal of the Year in 2002-03, 2006-07 and 2008-09. Under Dr. Furr’s leadership, South Mecklenburg has launched the Innovation, Design and Engineering Academy, improved its graduation rate and become a pilot school for Bring Your Own Technology. TONYA KALES – ASHLEY PARK
Project L.I.F.T. finalist and Ashley Park Principal Tonya Kales is a product of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She started at Nations Ford elementary as a kindergarten student and graduated from Olympic in 1987. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNCC. She is currently working toward a doctoral degree at UNCC. Principal Kales began her teaching career at Allenbrook Elementary and then moved to Smithfield Elementary. She became National Board certified while at Smithfield.
In 2000, Principal Kales was selected as a North Carolina Principal Fellow. She became an assistant principal of Smithfield Elementary for a few years before moving to McAlpine Elementary to become that school’s principal. Principal Kales moved to Ashley Park in 2009 as part of the Strategic Staffing initiative, which places a principal with a proven track record of success in increasing student achievement in low-performing schools. Under Principal Kales’ leadership, Ashley Park’s overall composite score went from 29.9 percent to 65.3 percent with high growth every year. The school’s science scores are also above the district average. PATRICIA SEXTON – PINEWOOD ELEMENTARY
Central Elementary Zone finalist and Pinewood Principal Patricia Sexton has been in education since 1995, when she graduated from the College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She earned a master’s in school administration from UNCC in 2003. Principal Sexton began teaching in 1995 at Piedmont Middle and Smithfield Elementary schools. She was also a teacher business intern, shadowing corporate workers, identifying skills needed in the workplace and developing lesson plans to support the school-to-work connection. She worked as an assistant principal in Monroe for four years before taking that position at Providence Spring Elementary in 2006. She has been principal of Pinewood since 2008. This year Principal Sexton has participated in the Innovative Institute and the Leadership Institute at Queens University of Charlotte. Through Principal Sexton’s leadership, Pinewood has received several large grants, including the NFL Play 60 for $10,000. Student proficiency at the school has also increased from 57 percent in 2010 to 73.5 percent in 2012. SHEILA IJAMES – HAWTHORNE MIDDLE
Central Secondary Zone finalist and Hawthorne Principal Dr. Sheila Ijames has had a 27-year career as an educator and instructional leader. She began teaching after earning a bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University. She earned master’s degrees in supervision and administration and curriculum and instruction from UNCC. She completed her doctoral degree in educational leadership at Winthrop University. Ijames taught for more than 13 years before becoming an instructional leader for staff and administrators, which she did more than 10 years. She served as a regional superintendent assistant in CMS for two years before becoming principal of Midwood High in 2007. At Midwood, she led the transition of ninth-graders who did not pass state End-of-Grade assessments in preparing for high school. She moved to Hawthorne High in 2011. Principal Ijames, recognized by district leadership as a strong advocate for her school, created the Principal Chat and Chill to gather feedback from staff throughout the school year. RICHARD PARKER – EAST MECK HIGH
East Zone finalist and East Mecklenburg Principal Richard Parker is a native of Charlotte and a graduate of West Mecklenburg High. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of North Carolina, where he also played junior varsity baseball. Inspired by his former teachers, Principal Parker earned a master’s degree in education from Appalachian State University in 1989. Principal Parker began teaching physical education and health in CMS in 1989 at Quail Hollow. He coached the school’s football and baseball teams, winning seven baseball championships. Principal Parker earned his administrative degree from Winthrop University in 1999 and became an assistant principal at East Meck. In 2009, he became the seventh principal in that school’s history. Under his leadership, East Meck made adequate yearly progress in 2011-12, making annual measureable objectives for 25 subgroups. Magnet School of America recognized the school as a Magnet School of Excellence in 2011-12. The graduation rate at East Meck has also increased by 7 percent.
Information on the Principal of the Year announcement will be released by next week, CMS said in an announcement Wednesday.