Pierce named SE Regional Principal of the Year
Elizabeth Pierce, principal of E.B. Frink Middle School in La Grange, gets a hug from Pink Hill Elementary principal Lee Anne Hardy on Tuesday after Pierce was surprised with the announcement of her selection as 2019 Southeast Region Principal of the Year. Photo by Patrick Holmes / LCPS
Folks went to great lengths to conceal a pleasant surprise for Elizabeth Pierce.
At Tuesday’s principals and directors meeting at the Lenoir County Public School Board of Education building, Pierce — who is in her third year as the E.B. Frink Middle School principal — was recognized as the Southeast Regional Principal of the Year. Pierce said she was surprised to receive the honor and thanked her fellow administrators for helping her throughout her time at Frink.
“I’m very humbled and grateful for this award,” Pierce said. “I feel something like this is shared with everyone (in attendance here) and every day I’m learning. I call on everyone in here and it’s a blessing to receive the award.”
LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams had high praise for Pierce.
“I think the world of her,” Williams said. “She has a lot of heart and passion for the children and she’s a dedicated visionary who loves them dearly. She demonstrates it each day through her actions at Frink Middle School and she makes my job as a superintendent that much easier.”
The celebration was a surprise for Pierce, one numerous entities tried to keep concealed. South Lenoir High School Principal Steve Saint-Amand helped delay Pierce from the meeting, allowing the other administrators ample time to set up.
“I told her my car was getting serviced and I needed her to pick me up for the meeting,” Saint-Amand said. “I let her know that I had told Mr. Williams in advance we would be late because I knew she liked to be on time for meetings. The meeting started at 8:30 and we got here about 8:45, which was enough time for her husband, family and friends to make it here for her big moment, and it was a great surprise for her. I can’t think of a better and more deserving administrator for this honor.”
West Craven High School Principal Tabari Wallace — who was named North Carolina Principal of the Year last year — delivered a presentation, only to cut it short by design as soon as Pierce walked in to receive her congratulatory praise.
“There was a lot of back and forth trying to keep it secretive,” Wallace said. “Principals have a bit of a sixth sense when it comes to things like this, but we were able to keep it a surprise just long enough.”
Michael Pierce, Elizabeth’s husband, said it was tough, but the surprise was kept intact for someone well-deserving.
“She’s always suspecting something, so when Steve texted me (Monday), she was wondering why he would,” Pierce said. “I told her ‘you’ll know by Wednesday,’ to kind of keep this a surprise.
“I’m excited for her receiving this award. She’s extremely dedicated toward the students and she’s a perfectionist — she’s never satisfied about the job she’s doing and is always looking to improve.”