NJPSA annual awards programs which honor school leaders in K-12 NJ schools include the NJPSA Visionary Leadership Awards and NJPSA Student Leadership Scholarships.
NJPSA Visionary Leadership Awards
The annual NJPSA Visionary Leadership Awards program honors K-12 school leaders at the elementary, middle and secondary school levels. The award categories are:
- Visionary Principal of the Year, Elementary Level
- Visionary Principal of the Year, Secondary Level
- Visionary Assistant Principal of the Year
- Visionary Supervisor/Director of the Year
NJPSA Student Scholarships
Additionally each year, the NJPSA Student Leadership Scholarships program provides 25 student leadership scholarships of $2,000 each, which are awarded to graduating seniors for their demonstrated leadership in community or school activities (other than athletics). Eligibility is limited to districts that receive this application directly from NJPSA.
2021 Visionary Leadership Award Winners
Annie Corley-Hand, Principal of Mary Kay McMillan Early Childhood Center in Berkeley Heights, was named Visionary Principal of the Year, Elementary Level; Kwame Morton, Ed.D., Principal of Cherry Hill High School West, was named Visionary Principal of the Year, Secondary Level; Emily Bonilla, Assistant Principal of Essex County Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology in Newark, was named Visionary Assistant Principal of the Year; and Kelly Harmon, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Monmouth County Vocational School District, was named Visionary Supervisor/Director of the Year. Each received his/her award during the NJPSA/FEA/NJASCD Virtual Fall Conference on October 15, 2021.
Annie Corley-Hand, Principal of Mary Kay McMillan Early Childhood Center in Berkeley Heights - Visionary Principal of the Year, Elementary Level
Annie Corley-Hand is Principal of the Mary Kay McMillan Early Childhood Center in Berkeley Heights. Since beginning her tenure as principal in 2009, Corley-Hand has focused on finding pathways to personalized learning, Identifying teacher leaders, creating a school-wide data team, delving into assessment information, and developing a system where skills are targeted based on individual needs. In 2016, the MKM ECC data team participated in the New Jersey Tiered System of Supports training at NJPSA and later developed a block schedule with a one hour WIN (What I Need) period for intervention and enrichment. MKM’s multi-tiered framework promotes school improvement through engaging, research-based academic and behavioral practices and has become the model for the district elementary schools. Three years ago, she adopted Timber, an Australian Labradoodle puppy, to support children with social and emotional learning needs as well as their literacy and language development. It is not uncommon for him to attend speech-language therapy sessions, comfort a crying child, sit and listen to a book, or spend some time with an adult who may be having a bad day.
Kwame Morton, Ed.D., Principal of Cherry Hill High School West - Visionary Principal of the Year, Secondary Level
Dr. Kwame Morton is currently the Principal of Cherry Hill High School West and will soon be taking on a new position as Assistant Superintendent of Cherry Hill Public Schools. At High School West, he has created a culture where “No Child Is Left Invisible,” ensuring that all students realize success. He has also built a very successful partnership with the Cherry Hill Police Department, where police officers spend a lot of time getting to know the students. In fact, some officers run track at the high school with the track and cross country teams, and others participate in Yoga classes with the students. This relationship proved to be advantageous last Spring, as many students joined in protests that could have escalated if not for the personal interaction these students had with the officers who were on the scene. This partnership has since expanded to include Restorative Practices work for youth offenders in the community.
Emily Bonilla, Assistant Principal of Essex County Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology in Newark - Visionary Assistant Principal of the Year
As Vice Principal of Essex County Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology in Newark, Emily Bonilla is ever present throughout the building and has made conquering chronic absenteeism a personal mission, and lowered the rate from 8 percent to under 2 percent. She was also a co-author of the Educators’ Guide to Media Literacy and the Common Core. Before joining the Payne School, Bonilla was a teacher of digital filmmaking and television production as well as a senior producer and editor. She led the LMS Initiative for Virtual Learning for the District and for the 2020-2021 school year and created virtual school community events such as student-led virtual pep rallies, student forums, teacher online workshops, parent forums, and club events and performances.
Kelly Harmon, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Monmouth County Vocational School District - Visionary Supervisor/Director of the Year
Kelly Harmon is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Monmouth County Vocational School District. Upon transitioning to this position from her previous role as Curriculum Coordinator of English and Secondary Education Teacher at the Communications School in the same district, Kelly approached the assistant superintendent with a plan to overhaul the entire curriculum using the Understanding by Design curriculum in order to transform the district from good to great. The new framework would ensure that all teachers and administrators throughout the large district would use a consistent language, plan with a purpose, unpack standards, think about big ideas, create unit plans and performance tasks. Not only have students shown growth, but teacher practice has improved, as well. Kelly is also known throughout the district for her enthusiastic support of faculty and staff, as she “Shouts Out” a member of the district team every Friday on Twitter.
NJASCD Dr. Ernest L. Boyer Outstanding Educator Award
The Dr. Ernest L. Boyer Outstanding Educator Award is presented by NJASCD to an educator who has made a major contribution to the field of education and who has exemplified the vision, leadership qualities, and commitment to the improvement of education that characterized the career of Dr. Boyer who served as United States Commissioner of Education from 1977-1979. His connection to New Jersey and NJASCD was a close one, as he resided in our state. The award bearing his name serves to recognize and honor Dr. Boyer’s accomplishments, inspire the recipients to embrace the qualities and characteristics required to advance our profession, and encourage other educators to aspire to make a difference in the education of youth to shape a better future.
Dr. Mary Reece, Director of Special Projects at the Foundation for Educational Administration (FEA)
Dr. Mary Reece is the Director of Special Projects at the Foundation for Educational Administration. Prior to joining FEA, Mary served as a principal, assistant principal, and supervisor in Edison Township. She began her teaching career in Irvington, and later worked at the NJ Department of Education. Mary has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Rutgers University from which she received her graduate degrees, and she has served as a mentor for many administrative interns. She has presented at state, national, and international conferences on such diverse topics as teacher/administrative tenure, special education issues, mentoring/induction, arts integration, early childhood education, and afterschool/extended learning. She has been an active member of local, state, and national education associations, completing a term on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Currently, Mary is the chairperson of both the Montgomery Township Environmental Commission and Sustainable Montgomery. In addition, Mary is a founder of Creative NJ, and she is the Board Chairperson of Arts Ed NJ.