Liberty Elementary principal to receive top Department of Education award

Liberty Elementary Principal George Petersen with fellow Skyhawks. (Photo contributed by George Petersen)

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the 2019 recipients of the Terrel H. Bell Award Wednesday and one of the Central Valley’s own was selected.

Liberty Elementary Principal George Petersen was one of 10 principals across the United States selected to receive the award given to principals that have exhibited outstanding school leadership.

Petersen was the only principal in California to be chosen to receive the U.S. Department of Education’s top award.

“This past week I taught a lesson in our fourth grade classes about what it means to grow and pursue quality. I tried to teach the kids that their goal is to be the “Best Version of Yourself,” Petersen said. “The Liberty staff and community has taught me to be the best version of myself as a leader.

“In my tenure here, I have grown so much, not only as a principal but even more importantly as an individual. This award was really given to a group of leaders. Staff, volunteers from our community, and even students, all are a part of the leadership team at Liberty. I am humbled and consider it an honor to represent the Liberty Team when I receive the Terrell H. Bell award.”

Petersen joins nine other principals from public and private schools selected from the nation’s 2019 Blue Ribbon Schools to receive the award.

“Bell awardees have created environments where students and teachers thrive,” Secretary DeVos said, according to a Department of Education news release. “These principals are living proof that strong, transformative leadership is critical to student success.”

Named for the second U.S. Secretary of Education, the Terrel H. Bell award honors school principals for their outstanding work and the important role they play in guiding their students and schools to excellence.

The award is part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Principals are nominated by their respective school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process.