Eliot ES and Washington HS principals named Principals of the Year

Washington HS principal also named H-E-B Excellence in Education finalist 

While school leaders across the district were greeting students at their campuses on Monday morning, Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan was entering hidden entrances to surprise HISD’s 2019-2020 Elementary and Secondary Principals of the Year. 

More than 20 North Area administrators, along with hundreds of students, packed into Eliot Elementary School’s cafeteria anxiously waiting to surprise Principal Zandra Aguilar as the district’s 2019-2020 Elementary Principal of the Year. 

“Aguilar is an exemplary principal who helps build leadership capacity with teachers and has continued to go the extra mile for a number of years in connecting with Eliot students and families,” Lathan said.  

A tenured principal at Eliot, Aguilar has successfully led the A-rated campus with every academic distinction from TEA to a designated “Exemplary School” with a strong Gifted and Talented program.  

“My entire team deserves this award because we work hard daily to make sure the children on our campus have the resources they need to succeed, everything from a hug, to shoes and clothing in some cases, to extra academic supports,” Aguilar said. “I am so grateful to the staff, students, my husband and children, and the entire community for this honor because I could not have done it without them.” 

Principal Carols Phillips of Washington High School was busy giving an overview of the district’s new “See Something, Say Something” safety campaign to a packed auditorium (discreetly filled with family, friends and students) when Lathan made a surprise entrance to crown him as the district’s 2019-2020 Secondary Principal of the Year.  

Since joining Washington five years ago, Phillips has led the campus in exiting “Improvement Required” to developing a high-performing engineering program.  

“We have come a long way on our campus, and we will keep pushing the envelope to reach even greater heights,” Phillips said. “Receiving these awards is unbelievable. I want to thank my students and staff for always working exceptionally hard. I love this school.” 

The decorated principal had one more surprise waiting for him as he gave his thank you speech when representatives from H-E-B stormed the stage to name him a finalist for the H-E-B Excellence in Education Leadership Award, which includes a $1,000 personal prize and a $2,500 prize for the school. 

The two principals will go on to represent the district at the state’s regional principal of the year competition, as well as be recognized at HISD’s Educators of the Year celebration in May.