South Lake Elementary Principal Wins Shirley Award
Celeste King, principal at South Lake Elementary School since 2011, is the 2019 recipient of the Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision.
This prestigious award, given by the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP), is presented annually to an administrator or supervisor who exemplifies outstanding leadership and accomplishments in the areas of purposeful leadership, instructional or systemwide leadership, human resources development, resource management, interpersonal skills, professional involvement, and community and stakeholder involvement.
King began her career in education in 1974, as a teacher in New York City Public Schools. She joined MCPS in 1989 as a teacher at Summit Hall Elementary School, and became an administrator in 2006.
For King, kids come first. She knows no barriers and will not accept “no” for an answer when it comes to her students, staff and the community. She is an early adopter of programs that support student learning. She opts for her school to participate in pilot programs that enhance instruction. She pushes her teams to analyze student data and look for patterns that can help find new pathways for students to learn. She was the project manager for the writing of the fifth grade reading language arts curriculum and collaborated on others.
A staff member noted that she is “a passionate, vision-driven, student-centered instructional leader who has created a community school culture and serves the South Lake community with the utmost professionalism.” King is described by colleagues as magnetic, spirited, caring, direct, respectful and honest. When she encounters a problem, she confronts it head on, digs deeply to identify the root causes and uses her available resources to find solutions. Her open door has a steady stream of staff and students waiting to spend a little time together.
Parents say that King empowers those around her to reach individual goals and success, while ensuring that these accomplishments better the community as a whole. King is not interested in praise or recognition, only results. Students and families know they are safe because King and the staff at South Lake will do anything they can to help.
She is also a lifelong learner, and was one of the first trainers for the George B. Thomas Learning Academy. She shares her reading expertise as a trainer for the Continuing Professional Development mandatory reading courses, and at the University of Maryland. She also earned an Excellence in Equity Certificate through McDaniel College.
King is known as an effective advocate for communities that have been marginalized by bias, discrimination and poverty. She collaborates with organizations, community-based groups and religious institutions to promote effective educational strategies, resources and critical thinking.
She has forged partnerships with many organizations, including the local police department and faith-based organizations to bring resources to children and their families—backpacks with supplies for every student at the beginning of the school year; monthly Family Market Days to combat families’ immediate needs for food; mentoring programs; and after-school art and photography classes.
King will be among the honorees at the annual Champions for Children Celebration on Thursday, April 25. She will also be honored by the MCAAP membership at the spring meeting in May.