Jonathan Enns was named the Wake County school system’s 2017-18 Principal of the Year on Thursday, and Jose Espinal was named Assistant Principal of the Year.
Enns has been principal of Fuquay-Varina High School since 2014. During his time there, the school’s graduation rate has climbed 12 percentage points, the passing rate on state end-of-course tests has risen 7.9 percent and enrollment in Advanced Placement courses has increased 130 percent.
At the same time, suspensions have decreased by 54 percent at the 2,200-student school.
Enns credited steps such as creating the school’s Cohort Graduation Team, which uses a color-coded spreadsheet system to monitor all students’ progress and make sure each student remains on track for graduation. The team also mentors students at risk of falling behind.
Enns says a large part of his school’s success also can be credited to the relationships he builds among his staff.
“The true value of our organization is not how shiny the bricks and mortar are that support the physical structure of the school,” Enns said in a written statement. “Instead, it is the people inside the building that bring value to our learning community.
“Our people are the bricks and mortar of our school and they shine brighter than any star in the sky.”
Enns was principal of Phillips Middle School in Chapel Hill before taking his current job. Before then, he had been an assistant principal at Fuquay-Varina High and taught physics at Green Hope High School in Cary. He has been an educator for 17 years, the last nine as a school administrator.
Enns will receive a prize package that includes a $1,000 check. He will represent Wake in the state Principal of the Year program. He was among five finalists for the Wake award.
A focus on school equity
Espinal has been an assistant principal at Enloe High School in Raleigh for four years. Before that, he taught visual arts at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh and at West Charlotte High School. He has 12 years of education experience.
Much of Espinal’s work at Enloe focuses around equity. He created three Equity Teams at Enloe – one for staff, one for students and one for parents – that work to ensure that the needs of the magnet school’s diverse student population are being met.
Espinal also organized the #8Schools1goal Equity Kickoff Conference held in August that drew more than 700 teachers from seven nearby elementary, middle and alternative schools. He charged the teachers to remember the many students who depend on them.
“They look to you for guidance, wisdom and most importantly, your love,” Espinal said. “Think without borders, hate, blind spots or bias. I charge you to impact all children, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender or religious affiliation.”
Espinal will receive a prize package that includes a $500 check.