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Knollwood's Shonda Hairston is the top principal in Rowan-Salisbury School System

SALISBURY – Shonda Hairston of Knollwood Elementary School has been selected as the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s new Wells Fargo Principal of the Year. Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom made the announcement Thursday during the elementary principals’ monthly meeting at Shive Elementary School.
“I am thrilled that Mrs. Hairston was selected as the RSS Principal of the Year,” Grissom said. “She is the epitome of a leader and student advocate. Her focus is always on doing what is best for our students.”
Hairston joined the district in 1993 as a teacher at Corriher-Lipe Middle School. She also worked as a language arts teacher at Knox Middle School for eight years before becoming the assistant principal at Salisbury High School in 2004.
She stepped into her current role in August 2007.
Under Hairston’s leadership, Knollwood met expected growth through the state ABC accountability standards for the 2011-12 school year.
During the summer, Hairston helped teachers start a tutoring program for Hispanic students, who often fall behind before school starts back because they are immersed in the Spanish language.
She also launched an event to increase parent involvement call Heart to Heart. The annual program gives parents a chance to spend an hour and a half in their child’s classroom and get important information from the school.
Hairston received her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s in school administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She and her husband, Thaniel, have two children.
She was speechless, teary-eyed and all smiles as Grissom made the announcement Thursday. Fellow principals and staff applauded and cheered as Hairston made her way to the front of the room to accept flowers and balloons from Dr. Grissom.
“Shonda is quite diligent as she approaches leading our elementary school,” said Knollwood guidance counselor Perry Bradshaw. “She takes her responsibilities and wears them in her heart and on her sleeve. She really cares and is respected and works at this all the time, she is making difference at our school.”
Hairston will compete with other award recipients for the title of Northwest Regional Principal of the Year. Regional award recipients will be selected in early 2013.
Carson High School Principal Kelly Withers was the district’s principal of the year for 2012 and also named the 2012 Wells Fargo Northwest Regional Principal of the Year.
Since 1984, Wells Fargo Bank has sponsored the financial awards in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to recognize outstanding principals from pubic schools. The regional Wells Fargo Principals of the Year receive a $1,000 cash award for their school and a $1,000 cash award for personal use.

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