Jackson Park Elementary School Principal, Deana Lewis, has been named Kannapolis City Schools’ 2019-2020 Principal of the Year. Lewis not only is the principal of Jackson Park Elementary but also a product of the school. She attended Jackson Park as a student and began her teaching career at the school.
Superintendent Dr. Chip Buckwell and other central office staff members surprised Lewis by announcing the Principal of the Year honor during a faculty meeting.
“I’m absolutely shocked and surprised and every ounce of it goes to them,” Lewis said pointing at her teachers during the meeting. “It’s so nice to be honored, but it’s really them.”
Lewis became principal of Jackson Park Elementary in June 2017. In the two years that she has been principal, she has led Jackson Park to dramatic improvements in student achievement. Under her leadership, Jackson Park’s school performance score has risen a full letter grade, and the academic growth score has skyrocketed to 93% in each of her two years as principal. Student achievement also has risen more than 10% during her time as principal.
“Deana Lewis is a remarkable principal,” says Jackson Park assistant principal, Angie Miles-McClure. “She leads with kindness and a grateful heart, and she wants everyone around her to be successful. She truly feels that Jackson Park is her home, and she builds up everyone at the school. She also is the hardest worker I have ever known.”
McClure says that one of the secrets to Lewis’s success is that she is dedicated to serving every child in the school not just academically but also socially and emotionally. She said Lewis works extremely hard to bring in every community resource possible to serve students and families and make sure their needs are met. She also says Lewis shares responsibility with her staff and empowers them to be leaders and find solutions that will help children succeed.
“The students and staff love her,” McClure says, “and they want to live up to her expectations, so she really makes everyone around her better.”
Buckwell agrees that Lewis is a special leader.
“The culture and atmosphere that Ms. Lewis has created at Jackson Park is just fantastic,” Buckwell says. “You can literally feel the love that she has for the school and the love that everyone in the building has for her. It’s an incredible experience to come to Jackson Park and see the success students are having. I’m really proud of Ms. Lewis, and I’m especially proud that she’s been part of Kannapolis City Schools her whole life. She’s truly an amazing educator.”
Lewis graduated from A.L. Brown High School and UNC Charlotte and returned to Kannapolis City Schools as a teacher. She began her KCS career as a third grade teacher at Jackson Park and then moved to Fred L. Wilson Elementary to become that school’s Title I Reading Coach. She was promoted to assistant principal of Kannapolis Intermediate School in 2012.
Lewis earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNC Charlotte. Her bachelor’s degree is in Elementary Education, and her master’s degree is in Reading. She also earned her Certificate in Administration Licensure from UNC Charlotte. She earned her Academically and Intellectually Gifted certificate from UNC Chapel Hill.
“There is not one day of this that is hard work for me. Every day is hard work, but nothing about this is hard. Coming here every day is a privilege and a joy and I feel like I get to come to my other family and work for and with my other family members,” Lewis said about being the principal at Jackson Park. “I live in this neighborhood, so they are my neighbors. My families are literally my neighbors. I’m a former teacher from Jackson Park and I went here as a kid. So it is just a natural extension of everything that I’ve lived. It just feels, truly, like I come home every day when I come here.”
She will now represent Kannapolis City Schools in the regional competition for North Carolina Principal of the Year.