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2022 Awards Ceremony

Page last updated 3.29.23

2022 NBRS Awards Ceremony Highlights

The 2022 Annual National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony on November 3rd and 4th in Washington, D.C. brought approximately 900 educators and leaders together to recognize 297 public and private schools receiving the award. During this celebratory, two-day event, participants heard from several guest speakers, engaged in networking discussions, attended workshops, heard from 2022 Bell awardees, and joined their peers in the presentation of awards.

Aba Kumi, Director of the NBRS program, presided over the celebratory luncheon and awards ceremony.

Cynthia “Cindy” Marten, Deputy Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education provided formal remarks, honoring awardees with congratulations and recognition of their incredible dedication to students and school communities.

Watch state representatives from across the country congratulate the 2022 National Blue Ribbon School awardees

Watch the Awards Ceremony and congratulatory remarks HERE
See the full photo display of awardees accepting their plaques on November 4th, 2022

2022 NBRS Terrel H. Bell Award Presentation and Opening General Session

Nine National Blue Ribbon School principals were awarded the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership. Bryan D. Hale, School Ambassador Fellowship Coordinator, U.S. Department of Education, presided over the presentation of awards.

The 2022 Bell Awardees: Denise Aloma, Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Ryan Ambrose, Checotah Intermediate Elementary School, Checotah, OK; Mahri Aste, Mosaic Elementary School, Fairfax, VA; Linda Bevil, James B. Eads Elementary School, Munster, IN; Catherine Bricelj, Myrtle Place Elementary School, Lafayette, LA; Miguel Marco, Wittmann Elementary School, Cerritos, CA; Julie Scott, R. L. Wright Elementary School, Sedgwick, KS; James Sonju, Lincoln K-8 School, Rochester, MN; and Brigett Stewart, Piedmont Elementary School, Piedmont, AL. Learn more about each awardee HERE.

See the full photo display of Bell awardees accepting their awards here:

Following an opening performance by the Arlington Traditional School Chorus, Adam Honeysett, Managing Director of State and Local Engagement, Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education welcomed awardees, guests, and partners to the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award Ceremony during the general session on November 3rd. James Lane, Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, offered congratulatory remarks to the 2022 awardees. Congratulatory remarks were also provided by David Griffith, Associate Executive Director, Policy and Advocacy, National Association of Elementary School Principals; Stephanie Simpson, Chief Executive Officer, Association for Middle Level Education; and Aman Dhanda, Chief Engagement Officer, National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Keynote Speaker: 2022 National Teacher of the Year, Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell, History teacher at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, Ohio and 2022 National Teacher of the Year congratulated the 2022 National Blue Ribbon School awardees on their resilience. He spoke about how great teachers in great schools are intentional in everything they do. It’s through that intentionality that students are made to feel like they belong and that they are relevant. He provided insights into his experience of tackling challenging topics during courses he developed and teaches at Oberlin. He shared powerful messages about how vital administrators’ support is to instruction, how deeply he believes that to engage students you must understand who they are and provide an environment for them to engage, and about extending beyond the classroom and valuing community. He was introduced by Celeste Rodriguez, Strategic Advisor Office of Communications and Outreach, U.S. Department of Education.

For more information visit:

Keynote Presentation: Transforming Schools from the Inside Out with Mindfulness, JG Larochette, Founder and CEO, Mindful Life Project

JG Larochette took participants through a mindfulness practice to support deep mental and emotional health. He focused his remarks on how important it is for educators to find support and balance to support students. He shared information on the science of stress and trauma and how mindfulness in education has the power to promote wellness. He was introduced by Frances Hopkins, Director, President’s Education Awards Program, Office of Communications and Outreach, U.S. Department of Education.

For more information visit:

To view the slides: HERE.

Concurrent Roundtable Sessions

Continuing to Grow Your Leadership

Presenters: Jean C. Kendall, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates National Search Firm and Kendall Consulting, and Marianne O’Donnell, Caring, Creative Teacher and Leader

Former principal Jean Kendall and former teacher leader Marianne O’Donnell led an interactive discussion of real-life school scenarios and reflective questions to help attendees continue growing their leadership skills. Discussions centered around responding to family and community needs, building trust, fostering a positive learning community, what students learn from the actions of leaders, how to address social and emotional needs of teachers/staff/students, shared leadership, leading with positive discipline, and leading with heart. Attendees were provided with a curated set of articles and resources focusing on various aspects of leadership, and much of the workshop time was dedicated to time for teams of educator leaders to share and discuss common challenges and goals for continuously growing their leadership talents.

For more information visit:

Solving Educator Shortages by Making Public Education an Attractive and Competitive Career Path

Presenters: Stacey Pelika, Director, Research, National Education Association; and Dale Templeton, Director, Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy, National Education Association

Ms. Pelka and Ms. Templeton shared highlights from an October, 20022 NEA white paper, Elevating the Education Professions: Solving Educator Shortages by Making Public Education an Attractive and Competitive Career Path. They provided an overview of the trend data on educator shortages and teacher preparation enrollment over time. Solving educator shortages requires multiple long-term program and policy solutions addressing recruitment, recruitment and retention, and retention. Participants learned about examples of solutions as well as shared strategies.


You can find the presentation slides: HERE.

A link to the white paper:

Enhancing Social-Emotional-Behavioral Wellness for All

Presenter: Kelly Perales, Co-Director, Midwest PBIS Network Implementation Partner, Center on PBIS

Participants learned how to enhance their current efforts to support the social-emotional-behavioral health and wellness of staff and students. Specific resources and strategies were shared, and participants engaged in interactive discussions. Discussions included how schools are supporting adults’ wellness to reduce teacher stress and the impact of building in wellness opportunities into the day and culture, so it isn’t one more thing.

The evidence-based multi-tiered system of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) was also described as a way to foster a culture of wellness for all.

You can find the presentation slides HERE.

For resources and information from the session, visit the presenters’ Padlet HERE.

Helping Students Succeed with Comprehensive Afterschool Programs

Presenters: Erik Peterson, Senior Vice President of Policy, Afterschool Alliance; and Jillian Luchner, Policy Director, Afterschool Alliance

Presenters provided the latest research on extended learning and facilitated discussions and sharing on the topic. Comprehensive afterschool programs help meet students’ academic, social and emotional needs and provide the tools they need for success in life. Discussions included why afterschool matters, challenges of access, equity perspectives, components of comprehensive programs, value of partnerships, and how federal funding streams, including COVID relief dollars, can support programs.

You can find the presentation slides HERE.

Joseph Masgai, Principal, Afton Elementary School, 2019 National Blue Ribbon School, 2020-2022 Resident SAF, U.S. Department of Education, facilitated a panel discussion of the 2022 Bell awardees. The panel shared their reflections and engaged in a discussion about relevant leadership topics, including leadership recruitment and retention, professional learning for principals, community support, measuring effectiveness, student relationships, and mentoring.

Learn more about the panelists HERE.

Networking Café by Topic

After a warm welcome from NBRS Director, Aba Kumi, attendees engaged in self-guided round-robin discussions with their peers from across the country on a variety of topics. Participants joined their elementary school peers or secondary level and were given three opportunities to address topics of choice. Topics included bridging learning opportunity gaps, culturally responsive teaching and learning, multi-tiered systems of support and intervention, teacher recruitment and retention, family and community engagement, student engagement and motivation and much more. This year, the Café included a designated networking opportunity for District Superintendents.

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