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Old Fort’s Jill Ward is 2020-21 MCS Principal of the Year

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Jill Ward, principal of Old Fort Elementary, has been selected by her colleagues as the 2020-2021 Principal of the Year for McDowell County Schools.

“I am honored to have been nominated by my peers and to serve as a part of the McDowell County School system,” Ward said in a news release. “I am a native of McDowell County and attended McDowell County Schools.”

Ward graduated from McDowell High in 1984. She then attended Appalachian State University and graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. She began her education career in August 1989 as a fourth-grade teacher at Nebo Elementary. In 1991 she was reassigned to Marion Elementary where she would teach for the next 21 years in grades three, four, and five.

In June 2012 Ward was promoted to the position of Instructional Coach at the district office. She served in this role for the next two years. Ward was named Interim Principal at Old Fort in October 2014. She was board approved as the principal in March 2015 and continues to serve as the leader of Old Fort Elementary.

Ward earned her Master of Arts degree in Elementary Education in 1995 from Western Carolina University. She went on to complete the licensure requirements for Supervision and Administration at Appalachian State in 2011.

Superintendent Mark Garrett had strong words of praise for Ward, stating “Jill has served students, families, and educators in McDowell County for the past 31 years. The students of Old Fort have met or exceeded expected growth on End of Grade testing for each of the four consecutive years prior to last year’s early closure. Her leadership during this past year was crucial while the school was surrounded by ongoing demolition and construction. Old Fort didn’t skip a beat due in large part to her efforts. We are very proud of Jill as our MCS representative in the Principal of the Year process.”

Ward added “This honor is a reflection of the hard work of my teammates at Old Fort Elementary, my community and the influence of many colleagues that have impacted me during my career as an educator.” She will compete against 15 other district principals in Region 7 (Northwest) for a chance to be the Regional Principal of the Year in November and December. The eight regional principals of the year will then be considered for the honor of State Principal of the Year later in the spring.

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