Georgia's National Distinguished Principal

Youth Elementary School Principal Susan Enfinger was named Georgia's 2023 National Association of Elementary School Principals National Distinguished Principal (NAESP) by the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals (GAESP). Ms. Enfinger received a monetary gift sponsored by Istation and will be honored along with her fellow state winners during the 2023 National Distinguished Principal event this October in Washington, D.C.

“Ms. Enfinger has made a considerable impact over the past seven years as an enthusiastic school principal for the Walton County School District,” said Hal Beaver, GAESP executive director. “She ensures her students consistently experience high-quality instruction, a variety of resources, and feedback on learning. She creates the conditions for individuals and teams to be successful by building a school culture focused on connectedness, collaboration, trust, and transparency.”

Beaver continued, “School principals commit their professional lives to educational excellence and their personal lives to children. They are uniquely dedicated public servants who rarely receive the kind of public recognition they deserve.”

Gaye Stewart, a third-grade teacher at Youth Elementary, believes Susan Enfinger is the type of leader that is willing to do whatever it takes for success and rises to a challenge to serve her school in every way possible and recognizes the whole staff member and their needs as well. “She listens and guides each induvial staff member to be the best they can be.”

Dr. Alicia Buford, principal at Walker Park Elementary Schools described Susan Enfinger as an innovative thinker and constant learner who is always seeking new ways to improve the school. “I whole-heartedly believe that Susan is committed to equity and excellence, and has a genuine passion for helping student and staff reach their full potential.”

Superintendent Nathan Franklin stated, “Youth Elementary’s student achievement has been above 90% even through the challenges of the pandemic due to Ms. Enfinger’s exceptional leadership. However, she is a humble leader who would undoubtedly give all the credit to her teachers and support staff.”

Ms. Enfinger has been a principal in Walton County for over seven years. She has also served as a teacher, math instructional specialist, assistant principal and curriculum coordinator for the district. She graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in both psychology and middle school education and from the University of West Georgia with a degree in education leadership.

The National Distinguished Principals, sponsored by NAESP, is a program that honors outstanding elementary and middle-level administrators who ensure that America’s children acquire a sound foundation for lifelong learning and achievement. Established in 1984, the program recognizes and celebrates principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staff in their learning communities. The program is based on three fundamental ideas:
  • Children’s attitudes toward learning and their perceptions of themselves as lifelong learners are established in the beginning school years.
  • The scope and quality of children’s educational experiences are determined primarily by the school principal, who establishes, through the important work of teachers and the support of caring parents, the character of a particular school's program.
  • The dedication and enthusiasm of the outstanding principals who guide children's early education experiences should be acknowledged to both show appreciation for their work as well as to allow them to serve as models for others in the field.

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