Announcing the 2017 Georgia National Distinguished Principal

K-12 Publisher Mentoring Minds Partners with GAESP to Recognize Hammond for Excellence in School Leadership

Dr. Cynthia Hammond, winner of the Georgia 2017 National Distinguished Principal AwardWARNER ROBINS, Georgia – Cynthia Hammond, Ed.D, principal at Westside Elementary School in Warner Robins, was named the Georgia 2017 National Distinguished Principal by the Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals (GAESP). Hammond was awarded a check for $2,500 through the sponsorship of national K-12 publisher Mentoring Minds, a partner of GAESP. She and her fellow state winners will be honored during the 2017 National Distinguished Principal event in October in Washington, D.C.

“Dr. Hammond’s commitment to excellence is reflected in programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all children and the establishment of community ties with parents and local business organizations,” said Hal Beaver, executive director, GAESP. “She has put the progress and the well-being of every child at the forefront of school planning and operations and her students are on the road to a quality education because of her efforts.”

Earlier this year, the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), Georgia’s accountability tool measuring how well public schools and districts prepare students to achieve college and career readiness goals, cited Westside Elementary as a school “Beating the Odds.” The analysis predicts a range in which a school’s CCRPI score is statistically expected to fall based on total enrollment, grade levels, student mobility and student demographics to include race/ethnicity, disability, English Language Learners, and poverty. Schools with a CCRPI above the predicted range are identified as beating the odds. Westside Elementary is one of seven schools in Houston County to beat the odds for five consecutive years.

GAESP named Dr. Cynthia Hammond the winner of the 2017 National Distinguished Principal Award.

Teachers at Westside Elementary School praise Hammond as “a consummate professional, dynamic leader, and effective communicator,” and for spending time in the classrooms and at school events in order to make her presence known to students, staff, and parents.

“Dr. Hammond works passionately to promote high expectations for student learning,” said Lazunia Frierson, executive director of Elementary Operations for Houston County Board of Education. “She is a visionary leader who creates opportunities for Westside Elementary School and despite the challenges the school has faced, under her leadership, it has maintained a reputation for excellence in our school system.”

Dr. Hammond . . . is a visionary leader.

Among the successes Westside Elementary can count under Hammond’s leadership are the school’s Vine to Table initiative and efforts to end childhood hunger, increase student achievement, and obtain STEM certification. Teachers and students use Aeroponic Towers to raise vegetable beds and a greenhouse to grow fruits and vegetables to help feed fellow students and their community.

Another innovative program implemented by Hammond includes working with literacy coaches and staff developers from the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City to build strategies to enhance literacy instruction in order to improve student’s skills and achievement.

“Dr. Hammond has met the challenges at her school head on, providing innovative solutions that have not only had a positive impact on her students, but on the community around them, making her a true trailblazer,” said Michael Lujan, CEO of Mentoring Minds. “We are proud to partner with GAESP to recognize her outstanding leadership and congratulate her as Georgia’s 2017 National Distinguished Principal.”

Hammond earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Georgia. After a career in law enforcement, she returned to college, obtaining a master’s degree in education, a specialist degree in educational leadership and a doctorate from Argosy University.

About the National Distinguished Principals Program

The National Distinguished Principals program 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 staffs in their learning communities. The program is based on three fundamental ideas:

  • Children’s attitudes towards 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.

About Mentoring Minds, the Critical Thinking for Life company

Mentoring Minds is a national K-12 publisher with a mission to put critical thinking at the center of the classroom in order to support student achievement and empower educators to teach to higher standards. Mentoring Minds’ award-winning, research-based resources are designed to be flexible for classroom needs, supporting technology integration and standards mastery for Math, ELA and Science. Mentoring Minds’ commitment to education extends beyond the classroom, as well; the company proudly sponsors groundbreaking administrators across the nation and supports community-based education initiatives through MindShare, an employee-driven grant program. For more information, call 800-585-5258 or visit

For more information, press only: Shaun Wiley, L. Wolfe Communications, 847-644-0237, [email protected].