Tyler Heights Elementary School Principal Julia Walsh thought she was simply answering a call to go to one of the classrooms in the school.
Students in the class already knew better, though. They had been told minutes earlier the news that Superintendent George Arlotto then delivered to Walsh: She is the inaugural Anne Arundel County Public Schools Principal of the Year.
“Surprise!” the students yelled as a stunned Walsh entered the classroom and they held signs of congratulations.
“I feel overwhelmed and humbled to receive this award today,” Walsh said. “This recognition is an incredible honor knowing all of the other well-deserving and truly outstanding principals in our school system. The dedicated staff, hard-working students, and caring community at Tyler Heights mean the world to me, and anything that I do could not be done without their help. This award is an acknowledgment of all the wonderfully innovative things happening at our school on a daily basis! Go Team Tyler!”
Walsh, a veteran school principal of more than 10 years and an AACPS educator for 18 years, has led the Tyler Heights Elementary School community since 2015. She was instrumental in launching the Community Schools Program for AACPS in collaboration with AACPS offices and national organizations.
Since March 2020, she has guided a team that has facilitated a Food and Resource Fair every Saturday to help fulfill the needs of more 75,000 individuals in the Annapolis community during the pandemic.
“Her commitment to our school and school community is unmatched,” said Sarah Daniels Larson, community school manager at Tyler Heights. “I am honored to be a part of the team that she grows each day.”
The Anne Arundel County Public Schools Principal of the Year program began this school year with support from the 21st Century Education Foundation, which was seeking a way to recognize outstanding principals in the county similar to the Teacher of the Year program that has existed for nearly four decades. Principals must have had at least five years’ of experience and be at least in their second year at a school to be considered. They must also demonstrate excellence in the areas of instructional leadership, management and communication, school and community cooperation, and creativity and innovation.
In addition to Walsh, the 21st Century Education Foundation will also recognize the following Principal of the Year Finalists at its Excellence in Education Awards Ceremony in April.
- Rebecca Blasingame-White, Hebron-Harman Elementary School
- Gina Davenport, Arundel High School
- Amanda Edmonds, Freetown Elementary School
- Tara Lambden, Belvedere Elementary School
- Kimberly Winterbottom, Marley Middle School
Tickets and sponsorships will go on sale later this month for the 36th Annual Excellence in Education Awards Ceremony, scheduled for Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Live! Arundel Mills. For more information, contact Carol Ann McCurdy at firstname.lastname@example.org.