Derrick Harris, the principal at Bell Elementary School (Wayne County), was recognized by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) as part of its 2019 Class of National Distinguished Principals during National Principals Month.
Harris has served as a principal since 2006 and has led Bell Elementary since 2013. He has focused on implementing best practices that increase student performance and learning, such as a differentiated literacy program that ensures each child’s instructional needs are being met. This program has resulted in 85% of students reading at grade level, compared to barely 50% reading at grade level when he first became principal.
Harris also has focused on creating a welcoming and community-centered environment for students and staff. He was instrumental in implementing the Officer Friend initiative as part of Bell Elementary’s school safety program. Through this initiative, a local law enforcement officer “adopts” a classroom and spends time visiting with students, helping with homework or just eating lunch together.
NAESP honors outstanding elementary- and middle-level administrators for setting high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and climate for the students, families and staff in their learning communities. Principals chosen for the Class of National Distinguished Principals participated in the National Distinguished Principals Program in October in Washington.