Award Year: 2022

W. A. Bess Elementary School

4340 Beaty Road
Gastonia, NC, 28056-8335

(704) 866-6075

Ms. Laura Clark, Principal at time of Nomination

Gaston County School District

School Website

School FaceBook


The mission of W.A. Bess Elementary School is to create a nurturing learning environment. The vision of W.A. Bess Elementary School affirms the belief that academic success is the foundation for lifelong learners who contribute to their community. Our school embodies Gaston County Schools' vision to inspire success and a lifetime of learning.

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 11%
  • White: 68%
  • Hispanic: 12%
  • Asian: 4%
  • Two or more races: 4%
W.A. Bess Elementary is inspiring success through arts-infused instruction.

W.A. Bess Elementary is inspiring success through arts-infused instruction.

W.A. Bess Elementary School is proud of its long-standing commitment to excellence in education. Located in Gastonia, North Carolina, the school serves approximately 600 students in grades K-5. It opened in 1982 and is named for Willard A. Bess, who served as an educator and school administrator for 42 years.

W.A. Bess consistently ranks among the highest-achieving schools in Gaston County with students exceeding academic performance and growth expectations. The school has been recognized multiple times by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction as a School of Excellence, and in 2006, it was named a National Blue Ribbon School.

In 2019, W.A. Bess became a North Carolina A+ School, the first one of its kind in Gaston County. As an A+ School, the arts are integrated across the curriculum, and teachers and staff work diligently to instill an understanding of and appreciation for the arts in students. The belief is that an arts-infused education benefits children not just in school, but throughout life as well since arts education is linked to higher academic achievement, positive social outcomes, and increased civic engagement. Further, students in an arts-based curriculum have higher degrees of empathy and acceptance and demonstrate stronger critical thinking skills.

W.A. Bess Elementary remains devoted to creating a caring and nurturing atmosphere for students and families. Today and every day, the school focuses on effective teaching and learning and ensuring that all children receive the quality education they deserve.