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Stovall announced as National Distinguished Principal for state
DCJHS principal to be honored in Washington D.C. in the fall
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Dawson County Junior High School Principal Connie Stovall was recently selected as the 2019 National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). - Photo by Jessica Taylor

Dawson County Junior High School Principal Connie Stovall was selected last week as the 2019 National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. She will represent Georgia’s middle level principals during a two-day conference event in Washington D.C. this fall.

According to Dr. Bob Heaberlin, executive director of the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals (GAMSP), Stovall was nominated and selected by Georgia principals through a statewide search process conducted by GAMSP.

Stovall became principal of Dawson County Junior High School in 2018, having previously served as the Secondary Education Director of Forsyth County Schools.

“It was a dream to come back to a school before I retired and so I’m just so grateful to be here,” Stovall said.

Under her leadership, DCJHS was selected for the Professional Association of Georgia Educator’s (PAGE) Principal and Teacher Leadership Network, a two-year initiative consisting of a principal and three teachers from the participating schools partnering to drive school-wide change.

The teams work to transform their schools into engagement-focused organizations that nurture profound learning for students and staff.

“What every great principal will tell you is this: you’re only as good as your staff,” Stovall said during a brief reception April 19 at the junior high school.

Stovall took a moment to express her appreciation for her teachers and staff for the hard work they put in each day.

“Thank you for what you do and for letting me and allowing me to do the things that I do because it truly is a mission for all of us,” Stovall said. “It’s a calling and a mission. It’s not something that you just walk into and say ‘here I am, I can do it’ so I appreciate everything that you do every single day for our children.”

In her career, Stovall served 12 years as a middle grades teacher, having taught math, gifted math, science, ELA and reading in six middle schools in Georgia and Alabama.

She has served as an assistant principal at North Forsyth Middle, Piney Grove Middle and Liberty Middle schools in Forsyth County.

As principal at Liberty Middle School (2008-2015), Stovall guided the school to become a National Designated School to Watch and a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch. 

In addition, the Georgia Middle School Association named one of the school’s academic teams the 2013 Team of the Year for Georgia.

“Dawson County is honored to have Mrs. Stovall leading Dawson County Junior High School.  She has a proven track record of success and we look forward to the great achievements that will occur under her leadership in Dawson County,” Dawson County Superintendent Damon Gibbs said. “Mrs. Stovall works passionately to promote high expectations for both students and staff.  On behalf of the Dawson County Board of Education, I want to congratulate Mrs. Stovall for being named a National Distinguished Principal.”

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) established the program in 1984 to recognize and celebrate elementary and middle-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and culture for the students, families and staff members in their learning communities.

Criteria for selection of the principals require that the honorees are active principals of schools where programs are designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students and where there are firmly established community ties with parents and local business organizations. 

Since 2012, Stovall has served in many capacities on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals (GAMSP) and will assume the role of president for 2019-2020.  She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL). 

Stovall has received numerous honors and awards including the Dr. John Lounsbury Award for contributions to middle level education as well as the GAEL Outstanding Educator Award. 

She has also published an article The Journey Back:  The Return to the Middle School in the March 2015 AMLE Magazine.

In October, Stovall will be honored in Washington D.C. as a National Distinguished Principal during a two-day conference in which honored principals in the nation will be recognized.

“Principals create the necessary conditions for providing students with the well-rounded education that they need,” said Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE, NAESP’s executive director. “NAESP’s National Distinguished Principals program recognizes the outstanding leadership of highly successful principals and their commitment to the children they serve, to their local communities, to their state, and our nation. Working in partnership with classroom teachers and other educators, these principals provide the necessary leadership to improve student achievement and ensure every student has a pathway to success.”

Since 1978, the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals has served as Georgia’s professional middle grades educational leadership association and now represents over 600 middle level principals and assistant principals throughout the state. In addition to being an affiliate of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, GAMSP maintains close ties with the metropolitan Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Elementary School Principals and its 20,000 educational leader members worldwide. 

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