Orange County Public Schools has named Patricia Bowen-Painter of SunRidge Middle School as its Principal of the Year for 2017-18. The announcement was made Oct. 23 in a ceremony at Madame Tussauds Orlando that wrapped up National Principals Month in October.
The other two finalists were Dusty Johns of Boone High and Kelly Steinke of Killarney Elementary.
The awards ceremony included a reception, a catered dinner and the top-principal recognition. The finalists were introduced, and a short video was shared.
Bowen-Painter said she was surprised to hear her name being called.
“I am so impressed by the accomplishments of my colleagues and the hard work accomplished at their schools, as well as the other schools in OCPS,” she said. “After seeing their work highlighted, I felt certain it would be one of them.”
In her nomination, Bowen-Painter shared her philosophies and reflections on the importance of school leadership:
“Whether it has been as a classroom teacher, resource teacher, assistant principal or principal, I have believed that education is a life-changing experience, and it is my responsibility to ensure that all students have the opportunity to transform their lives,” she said.
Bowen-Painter has been with OCPS in several teaching and administration capacities since 1987 and has served as a principal since 2005.
“It is a blessing to serve as principal at SunRidge Middle School,” Bowen-Painter said. “We opened in 2012-13 with approximately 1050 students and have grown to nearly 1400 by this year. We have a very talented, dedicated, student-centered faculty and support staff. Our students are extremely hard-working, conscientious and caring. Our parents and community members are generous in the support they provide to our school family.”
SunRidge Middle was the top-scoring middle school in the district for FSA accountability in 2016-17 and FCAT accountability in 2013-14.
“It has been an exciting journey to develop as an educational leader in OCPS,” Bowen-Painter said. “My focus remains on student learning, and my goal is that my professional growth positively impacts the students that I serve.”
Also honored during the Oct. 23 program was Carver Middle Assistant Principal Jackie Ramsey, who was named OCPS Assistant Principal of the Year. She previously was assistant principal for instruction at Chain of Lakes Middle and Dr. Phillips High, as well as assistant principal at Freedom High.
The ceremony was held on International Drive. The nearby Orlando Eye attraction was lighted orange to commemorate OCPS and its principals.