Mary Hemphill, ’05, was named Regional Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year, representing Scotland County Schools, where she serves as the principal of I. Ellis Johnson Elementary School (IEJ). She will now compete for the state title of 2017 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year.
“It is a privilege and an honor to represent not only Scotland County, but the Sandhills region as the Regional Principal of the Year,” said Hemphill. “This award is a testament to the entire IEJ community because each student, teacher leader, support staff, parent, guardian, and community stakeholder has bought into the vision and mission to commit our efforts to the 3Ls: learning, literacy, and leadership. Transformation happens when the dream becomes a vision for all.”
Hemphill, who was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, graduated from Meredith College in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and K-6 licensure. While at Meredith, she was a part of the Student Government Association (SGA), where she served as the Freshmen Class President, the SGA Senate Chair, and the SGA Student Body President. Aside from holding several leadership positions throughout her time at Meredith, Hemphill studied in Puerto Rico at Universidad de Sagrado Corazon.
“Meredith was truly the cornerstone of my leadership journey,” Hemphill said. “After I successfully completed my student teaching, I graduated from Meredith and headed out into N.C. ready to serve the world of public education.”
Hemphill had the dream of being a teacher from a very early age. At the age of three, she developed a passion for working with students and educators. The thought of being a principal didn’t come into fruition until her last years as a third and fourth grade teacher. She realized then that she wanted to effect positive change on a large scale for students and teachers to create a learning environment.
“The best part of my job is having the unique opportunity to help the little people and the big people in my school pave their pathways,” said Hemphill. “Greatness looks different for every single person at IEJ. Whether you are a learner tackling a new concept or idea, or a teacher tackling a new strategy or teaching tool, your path to success is completely yours. I have the amazing opportunity to help all of the individuals in our school set the GPS towards success.”
The second-year principal earned a master’s degree in school administration in 2010 before obtaining a Ph.D. in leadership studies. Hemphill has goals of serving North Carolina as state superintendent and one day being the United States Secretary of Education.
As a regional winner, Hemphill will receive $1,000 for personal use and $1,000 for her school. The 2017 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year will be announced on May 12 during a luncheon in Cary. Hemphill is competing against seven other regional winners for the title.