WARNER ROBINS – 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. The Liberty County native received 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.
Hammond is a Bradwell Institute graduate and the daughter of Catherine Jackson of Riceboro.
“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,” GAESP Executive Director Hal Beaver said. “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, Georgia’s accountability tool measuring how well public schools and districts prepare students to achieve college and career readiness goals, cited Westside 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 is one of seven schools in Houston County to beat the odds for five consecutive years.
According to a news release, teachers at Westside 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.”
Among the successes Westside 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 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,” Mentoring Minds CEO Michael Lujan said. “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. 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.