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Alumna Elena Ashburn named N.C. Principal of the Year

Elena Ashburn (’12 M.S.A., ’18 Ed.D.) has been named the 2021 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year.

Ashburn, who received the award during a ceremony on Friday (May 21) at the Umstead Hotel in Cary, serves as principal of Broughton Magnet High School, a position she has held since 2017.

Ashburn started her career with Teach For America, working as an English teacher at Southern Durham High School. She earned her Master’s of School Administration degree at the School of Education in 2012 and her doctorate of education degree in 2018.

Before joining Broughton, Ashburn served as principal of East Garner Middle School and as assistant principal at Fuquay-Varina High School.

As an Ed.D. student in 2018, Ashburn was named the School of Education’s inaugural recipient of the Priddy Family Award for aspiring superintendents.

In a profile published by Walter magazine, Ashburn described her profession as a calling.

“I believe that teaching is the most important job in a school building,” she told the magazine. “Your lens is just much wider in the principalship: You have multiple priorities running at the same time.”

She said among her top priorities in her work is to build a passionate team that works to improve its effort.

“When you’re trying to continuously improve, it helps people remember their ‘why.’ I truly believe people arrive at this school building every day wanting to do the best thing by kids.”

Ashburn was named Wake County’s principal of the year in October and then was named as one of eight regional finalists in December.

Another of the eight regional finalists was alumnus Erik Naglee (’09 MSA), principal at Page High School in Greensboro. Naglee was named Guilford County’s Principal of the Year in October. He has been a finalist for that award twice before, once in 2017 while he worked as principal at Northwest Middle School in Greensboro, and in 2019 at Page High School.