OCPS announces finalists for top principal, assistant principal

Two of the candidates lead schools in West Orange County.

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During National Principals Month, OCPS is celebrating its finalists for the 2022-23 Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year awards. The winner of each category will be announced at the Stellar Awards Feb. 10, 2023, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.

In the running for Principal of the Year is Robert Strenth of Prairie Lake Elementary School.

Strenth said he pursued an education career because he wanted to be the teacher he never had as a child. Strenth and his mother moved frequently, and he struggled with academics. So, for more than 20 years, Strenth has strived to ensure all his OCPS students have a promising and successful future.

He goes the extra mile by filling in for teachers, answering phone calls at the front desk and providing his assistance in the cafeteria and nurse’s office. As a principal, Strenth has created a family atmosphere where everyone is accepted. He also worked with Prairie Lake Elementary teachers and students to increase the school grade from a C to a B”in 2022.  

Other finalists are Karen Furno of Avalon Middle and Kelly Paduano of Timber Creek High.

Joyce Conley of Whispering Oak Elementary School is a finalist for the Assistant Principal of the Year honor.

Student success is Conley’s top priority as assistant principal at Whispering Oak. She has developed schoolwide events to engage and uplift students, including starting a multicultural club. She is always visible around campus -- from assisting in the cafeteria to helping the custodial staff develop a game plan. As a fellow principal said, Conley is known for never wavering "in the face of challenges or adversity. In fact, she embraced the chaos, and tamed it, bettering all of us in the process." Conley is also committed to coaching and uplifting other current and aspiring assistant principals.

Other finalists for this award are John Miller Jr. of Meadowbrook Middle and Marion Campbell of Ridgewood Park Elementary. 

Finalists for the 2022-23 Teacher of the Year and Support Person of the Year will be released soon.




Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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