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UCPS announces 2019-20 Principal of the Year finalists

Principal of the Year Finalists Every year, Union County Public Schools (UCPS) recognizes a principal who not only exemplifies outstanding leadership but also works tirelessly to establish an environment that is conducive to the pursuit and achievement of academic excellence.

UCPS Principal of the Year finalists have been selected from a pool of 53 principals. The winner will be announced at a Principal’s Meeting luncheon on Oct. 3.

Congratulations to the following Principal of the Year finalists:

Benton Heights Elementary – Dr. Candice Boatright
Dr. Candice Boatright began her career in education teaching in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and UCPS elementary schools. She gained experience as an assistant principal at Parkwood High for four years before serving as principal of Indian Trail Elementary in 2010. In June 2017, she was named principal at Benton Heights Elementary.

Cuthbertson High – Jeffery Stout
Jeffery Stout began his teaching career as a math teacher at Sun Valley Middle for 15 years. After serving as assistant principal at Benton Heights Elementary and Cuthbertson High, he was named principal of Cuthbertson High in 2018.

Fairview Elementary – Kelly Thomas
Kelly Thomas began her career in UCPS as a Piedmont Middle teacher in 1996. After working as a counselor at Unionville Elementary, Thomas served as assistant principal at Fairview Elementary for three years before being named principal in 2006.

Forest Hills High – Dr. Kevin Plue
Dr. Kevin Plue began his teaching career at an Augusta, Georgia high school in 1992. After teaching at schools in Georgia for eight years, Dr. Plue worked in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for two years before joining UCPS as an assistant principal at Wesley Chapel Elementary. Dr. Plue has served as principal of Union Elementary and East Union Middle, and is now in his ninth year of serving as principal at Forest Hills High.

Stallings Elementary – Laura Gaddy
After teaching for nine years in Elon and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Laura Gaddy served as assistant principal at Shiloh Elementary for one year before coming to Stallings Elementary as assistant principal in 2008. She was named principal of Stallings Elementary in 2012.

Sandy Ridge Elementary – Emily Kraftson
Emily Kraftson began her career in UCPS as a Weddington Elementary school counselor in 2011. Kraftson served as assistant principal at Weddington Elementary for three years before being named principal at Sandy Ridge Elementary in 2017.

Shiloh Valley Elementary – Dr. Susan Rodgers
Dr. Susan Rodgers began her career in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as a sixth grade teacher. She later joined UCPS as a Shiloh Elementary teacher and went on to serve as a curriculum specialist, Wingate Elementary curriculum coordinator and Parkwood Middle assistant principal. She was named principal of Sun Valley Elementary in 2016 and the founding principal of Shiloh Valley Elementary in 2019.

Unionville Elementary – Dr. Sharyn VonCannon
Dr. Sharyn VonCannon began her professional career as a teacher assistant in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. After earning her teaching degree from UNC Charlotte, she taught at Indian Trail Elementary and at schools in Stanly County before coming to UCPS in 2004 as the assistant principal of Unionville Elementary. Dr. VonCannon was named principal of Unionville Elementary in 2007.

Weddington Middle -- Marcus Leake
Marcus Leake began his teaching career in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where he taught science and math and later served as an assistant principal. After transitioning to UCPS in 2007 as an assistant principal at Weddington High, Leake also served as assistant principal at Weddington Middle in 2014 before being named principal in 2015.

Wesley Chapel Elementary – Dr. Mike Henderson
Dr. Mike Henderson began his career teaching and serving as headmaster at a mission school in Malawi, Africa. After teaching at elementary and middle schools at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Henderson joined UCPS where he served as a principal at Shiloh and Wingate elementary schools before being named principal of Wesley Chapel Elementary in 2017.

On Sept. 23, UCPS Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan and Cabinet staff revealed the names of the finalists by visiting the principals at their schools. Pictures of the surprise visits are included in the photo gallery below:

Updated: Sept. 27, 2019/Posted: Sept. 23, 2019