Liberty Elementary Principal Receives Bell Award

Liberty Elementary School Principal George Petersen (center) received the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award in a ceremony in front of family, friends, students and staff on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (Ron Camacho/Clovis Roundup)

Liberty Elementary School Principal George Petersen received the Terrell H. Bell Award Dec. 11 at a ceremony which also honored the school for winning the Blue Ribbon Award.

Peterson was surrounded by his peers, faculty, students and community leaders, including Assemblyman Jim Paterson, when he accepted the prestigious award in the Liberty Elementary amphitheater.

He thanked his students, saying he couldn’t have won the award without them and that they represent the best and brightest of the central valley’s future. He also wished happy birthday to his 89-year-old mother, who was present at the ceremony.

“The Bell Award is really a team leadership award, because I can’t do this by myself. It’s the community, the staff and the students, so it’s really all of us coming together with a common vision and working together to fulfill that vision,” Petersen told the Roundup. “This is about the performance of the kids, it’s the family’s support and the community’s support.”

Named after the second U.S. Secretary of Education, the Bell Award is one of the U.S. Department of Education’s highest honors. It recognizes exceptional school leaders and the role they play in guiding students and schools to success. Only 10 principals receive the Bell Award each year.

“Bell awardees have created environments where students and teachers thrive,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos said in a statement. “These principals are living proof that strong, transformative leadership is a critical to student success.

The award is part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools program, which recognizes public and private elementary schools, middle schools and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or progress on closing achievement gaps.

The ceremony concluded with Liberty Elementary staff raising the school’s new Blue Ribbon flag, which could be seen from almost anywhere on the campus.

Ron Camacho was born and raised in Clovis. He attended Clovis High School and graduated from CSU Fresno in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications and Journalism. Before joining the Roundup, Ron wrote for Pollstar Magazine and the Sanger Herald. He has a deep appreciation for the arts and is a lover of music, cinema and storytelling. When he’s not busy looking for his next story, Ron enjoys taking weekend expeditions to the beach or mountains to practice landscape photography.