The National Distinguished Principal of the Year Program is sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals in corporate sponsorship with VALIC. This Program was established in 1984 to recognize elementary principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and climate for the students, families, and staffs in heir learning communities.
Second grade teacher Kelly Dee nominated Dr. Henderson for the national award and with help from other staff members and students surprised Sylvia with the award on a casual day after lunch.
“I was coming back from lunch with Kimberly Webb who had just won an award for Teacher of the Year when Assistant Principal Cindy McKenzie gave me a call that she needed to speak with me right away. When I entered the building I was told she was in the gym. As I entered the gym I saw all of our students sitting there as they began to yell ‘Surprise!’” explained Dr. Henderson. “I was so overcome with emotion that I am tearing up just think about it right now.”
Dr. Henderson says that her favorite part about being a principal is seeing 32 different classrooms every day. They all have one common goal but they each find a unique way to achieve that goal. Sylvia enjoys seeing them work together in order to achieve the overall goals of each student, classroom and school.
She is most proud of how the staff works as a family and bonds together to get things accomplished. “They are a very professional community that learns from each other, talks to each other and gains motivation and enthusiasm from each other,” commented Dr. Henderson. Sylvia emphasizes to her staff to have fun with the kids and use their individualism to teach the students throughout the year. With teachers being prescribed to teach the standards at times, Dr. Henderson feels it is important to help the kids enjoy their experience in the classroom.
Dr. Henderson cannot see herself doing anything besides teaching students and working with classrooms. “I really feel that I was born to be a teacher and a leader. I miss teaching students at the classroom level but now I have a chance to help students and teachers reach the shared goals of the entire school,” stated Sylvia. “I feel grateful to be in the Milford School District, I truly feel that Milford is the best kept secret in the state of Delaware.”
In October, Sylvia Henderson will attend the National Reception for Distinguished Principals in Washington D.C. and will get a chance to meet with federal legislators including President Barrack Obama. At the forum Dr. Henderson and her colleagues will have the opportunity to give their opinions and thoughts on the current state of the education system in the United States.