Kimberly Ferrell ’02MSA, ’13EDD: ‘With the Right Teacher, Environment and School Culture, All Students Can Learn and Achieve’

Kimberly Ferrell, 2018-19 Durham County Principal of the Year

With more than 25 years of experience as an educator, Kimberly Ferrell ’02MSA, ’13EDD has developed a belief that “With the right teacher, environment and school culture, all students can learn and achieve.” And she takes that philosophy with her every day as the principal of Burton International Baccalaureate Elementary Magnet School in Durham.

Her philosophy was rewarded by being named Durham County Public Schools’ 2018-19 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year.

“Burton is a school that holds all stakeholders to high expectations,” said Ferrell, who has led Burton for five years. “What I enjoy most about being the principal is the strong relationships with staff, families and the community.”

About Kimberly Ferrell

Role: Principal, Burton International Baccalaureate Elementary Magnet School

Education: Doctorate in educational leadership, NC State College of Education; Master of School Administration, NC State College of Education; Bachelor of Science in early childhood education, Fayetteville State University

Her Keys to Success in Education: “Building relationships, clear and high expectations, being intentional and celebrations.”

Why She Chose Education: “I wanted a profession where I could make a lasting impact for children.”

Ferrell started her career as an elementary school teacher. She taught first grade, second grade, third grade and K-5 academically and intellectually gifted. As a teacher in Franklin County Schools, she won Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Elementary Mathematics Teacher of the Year and Technology Teacher of the Year.

Her former elementary school principal, Connie Horton, inspired her to become a principal.

“I was inspired by her love and commitment to her staff,” Ferrell said. “We both lead by the heart — people first and processes second. You have to build a culture where all stakeholders have a voice and feel valued. Retaining teachers influences student outcomes.”

Ferrell has always been passionate about inspiring teachers, students and parents to become lifelong learners. Her desire to be an example led her to continue her education at the NC State College of Education, where she earned a master’s degree in school administration and later a doctorate in educational leadership because she wanted to deepen her understanding of the correlation between student learning, curriculum and instruction, and assessment.

Ferrell chose NC State because of its commitment to excellence and its strong reputation of being a research institution and providing a voice of innovation.

“NC State provided the structure and the framework for being a great leader,” Ferrell said. “My educational journey afforded a blueprint for success. NC State provided me the tools to create a culture that impacts teaching, learning and leading.

“If you want an experience that will change your life, join the NC State team.”

Photo by Truitt O’Neal for Durham Public Schools Office of Public Affairs

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