Return to Headlines

Instructional Excellence and Powerful Leadership Celebrated

By CHCCS Communications Team

Every spring, school districts across North Carolina name their Principals and Assistant Principals of the Year (as well as Teachers of the Year, but that’s for next week’s news!).

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools also awards a Promising New Teacher of the Year and Mentor Teacher of the Year, and all four of those honors were announced live by Superintendent Nyah Hamlett on April 26 to great fanfare, with balloons, flowers and a high-powered confetti blaster. These educators represent so many of the Core Values and Key Priorities of the Strategic Plan, starting with Instructional Excellence.

The 2023 Principal of the Year is Minnie Goins, now in her second year at Seawell Elementary School. However, Ms. Goins served as principal at Glenwood Elementary School many years ago, so CHCCS is twice-blessed to benefit from her many talents and resources once again. (She did actually win district principal of the year in Orange County Schools in 2021, so her excellence is widely recognized!) Ms. Goins received multiple superlative recommendations for this award, and her gifted leadership was mentioned often, as well as her dignity and calm strength. Her years of innovative and responsive service have made her a natural mentor and role model for other CHCCS principals, who often credit Ms. Goins for providing feedback and new strategies in her generous and consistent sharing across the district.

Jaimi West at McDougle Middle School is the 2023 Assistant Principal of the Year, and the presentation of her award came during an all-school assembly in the gym, complete with confetti, balloons and very loud adolescent whoops and shouts. Her students seemed very proud of their AP! Ms. West received numerous nominations for the honor, with a wide range of attributes and strengths detailed, speaking to the breadth and depth of her gifts and service. Frequently mentioned was her abiding commitment to professional growth in ways that elevate her colleagues, as well as enhance the climate and instruction in the schools. She has been integral to the success of the current LEAD cohort of assistant principals, and she has just completed the North Carolina Future Ready Leaders program. Restorative Justice is just one of Ms. West’s areas of focus and accomplishment, and her ongoing support of the MMS Dual-Language program had yielded high impact.

Reading Interventionist Marie Almeida, also at McDougle Middle School, received the Jeanette Blackwell Mentor Teacher of the Year Award in front of students and staff, as well as her husband, parents and young daughter. She was nominated by her mentee, EC Teacher Ava Vanhook, who wrote in her nomination that Ms. Alameida is “the best mentor any beginning teacher could have. She is ALWAYS available to me when help is needed.” Ms. Vanhook emphasized Ms. Almeida’s consistent responsiveness and overall support, which has included weekend conversations and substantial feedback on IEP and ECATS writing. Vanhook said, “I am who I am because of her!” As has been the custom since 2009, when the award was created in honor of the late Mrs. Blackwell, her husband Mr. Russell Blackwell came to present a plaque and a hand-crafted silver “Blackwell Heart,” designed by his late wife. Mrs. Blackwell taught fifth grade at Glenwood and McDougle Elementary Schools and completed her more than 30 years of service as the first CHCCS Peer Assistance and Review Consulting (PARC) Teacher, building a template for the work of mentor teachers for years to come.

As Superintendent Nyah Hamlet noted in her April 28 Update, “The Promising New Teacher of the Year Award is always a special treat because it speaks to our future, and the great skill and talent present in our classrooms, even among first year teachers.” English Teacher, Samantha Shaw, at Carrboro High School, followed in her colleague, 2022 PNTOY Emily Giardina’s footsteps by winning the award this year. Ms. Shaw’s nomination by Principal Beverly Rudolph included the highest praise, “In my 25 years in education I have never seen a better first year teacher than Sam Shaw. When I go in her classroom it is like watching a seasoned teacher. She differentiates, offers student choice, values all voices, loves on all.” The award was presented in front of Ms. Shaw’s parents, a family friend, her mentor English teacher Raquel Harris, and a roomful of approving and enthusiastic students. Many of her students submitted nominations on Ms. Shaw’s behalf, an honor nearly matching the glowing words offered by her principal. 

Congratulations to all four of these stellar educators and thank you for all you bring to your students, peers and families everyday!

This District Headlines story was adapted from Superintendent Hamlett’s April 28 Community Update.

Minnie Goins M. Goins & N. Hamlett

Minnie Goins, 2023 Principal of the Year


Jaimi West C. Horne, J. West, N. Hamlett

Jaimi West, 2023 Assistant Principal of the Year


Marie Almeida M. Almeida

Marie Almeida, 2023 Jeanette Blackwell Mentor Teacher Award


Samantha Shaw B. Rudolph, S. Shaw, N. Hamlett

Samantha Shaw, 2023 Promising New Teacher Award