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
2023 Visionary Award Winners
Carlos Gramata, Jr., Principal of Hillside Elementary School in Livingston, was named Visionary Principal of the Year, Elementary Level; Mindy Milavsky, Principal of Lawrence Middle School, was named Visionary Principal of the Year, Secondary Level; Thomas Decker, Vice Principal of Neptune Middle School, was named Visionary Assistant Principal of the Year; and Violeta Katsikis, District Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction for Cherry Hill Public Schools, was named Visionary Supervisor/Director of the Year. Each will receive his/her award during the NJPSA/FEA/NJASCD Fall Conference in October at Borgata in Atlantic City.
2022 Visionary Leadership Award Winners
Mary Ellen Engel, Scott Wisniewski, Christopher Turnbull, and Stella Nwanguma received their NJPSA Visionary Leadership Awards during the NJPSA/FEA/NJASCD Fall Conference at the Borgata in Atlantic City on October 14, 2022.
About the Winners
Christopher Turnbull, Principal of Bear Tavern Elementary School in the Hopewell Valley School District, was named Visionary Principal of the Year, Elementary Level; Stella Nwanguma, Principal of Winslow Township Middle School, was named Visionary Principal of the Year, Secondary Level; Scott Wisniewski, Assistant Principal of Wayne Valley High School, was named Visionary Assistant Principal of the Year; and Mary Ellen Engel, Supervisor of Nursing in North Brunswick Township Public Schools, was named Visionary Supervisor/Director of the Year. Each will receive his/her award during the NJPSA/FEA/NJASCD Fall Conference at Borgata on October 14, 2022.
Christopher Turnbull, Principal of Bear Tavern Elementary School, Hopewell Valley School District
As principal of Bear Tavern, Christopher Turnbull has spearheaded several initiatives and encouraged his team to challenge their perception of what is possible, giving them permission to “go big.” During his tenure, Bear Tavern has transformed its lobby into a habitat of trout, tropical fish, hydroponic plants, and a large yellow-bellied slider turtle. The exterior of the building is now an Outdoor Learning Area that involved partnerships with 20 local businesses. In addition, the school has been named an EcoSchools USA Green Flag school, a Sustainable Jersey for Schools Bronze Award winner, and a River Friendly School by the Stony Brook Watershed Institute. He also changed the way morning announcements were made to serve as a gateway into the social-emotional learning curriculum.
Stella Nwanguma, Principal, Winslow Township Middle School
Stella Nwanguma transformed Winslow Township Middle School from being identified by the NJ Department of Education as a “Focus” school in need of improvement into a model school, which is recommended by the NJDOE to area schools as a school to visit. The students experience top-notch new academic programs such as Robotics STEM, Environmental STEM, Graphic Arts, Journalism and Mass Media, TV Production, and Coding and Game Design. Winslow has also won several awards for sustainability, including the Bronze certification and Silver Certification and received the 2020 Middle School Sustainability Champion Award.
Scott Wisniewski, Assistant Principal, Wayne Valley High School
As assistant principal at Wayne Valley High School, Scott Wisniewski has either led or introduced several social-emotional or wellness programs into the school, such as the annual week of respect, Third Party Compliments, Wellness Fair, and a recent grant from the National Council for Mental Health. The activities in these programs have helped to build a positive culture and reduce disciplinary actions and HIB incidents. Due to his efforts, Wayne Valley has earned a Gold Star rating from the Anti-Defamation League for five consecutive years. Wisniewski has also presented NJSBA, TechSpo, and the Garden State Google Summit on SEL activities and how technology is embedded into each activity.
Mary Ellen Engel, Nursing Supervisor, North Brunswick Township School District
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mary Ellen Engel was counted on to provide clear, accessible, evidence-based information across multiple platforms to ensure ease of access to all community members. She used technology to capture, analyze, and disseminate accurate data and provide accessible resources and services to ensure healthy, safe, and caring schools. She appeared on local television and presented at Board meetings to educate the school community on return-to-school planning related to health and wellness. In addition, as an Executive Board Member of the NJ State School Nurses Association, she collaborated with nurse leaders throughout the state and shared information with the North Brunswick Leadership Team and school nursing team.
Each winner received $7,000 to be used by his/her school or district, as well as a $1,000 personal award, in addition to other gifts.
NJPSA Student Leadership 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.