CITY OF INDUSTRY – Glen A. Wilson High School Principal Dr. Danielle Kenfield and Wedgeworth Elementary School Principal Dr. Paulina Cho were recognized with the 2023 Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership from the U.S. Secretary of Education on Oct. 16, an honor bestowed upon just nine school leaders from the 2023 cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools.
The award is part of the National Blue Ribbon School Program, celebrating school leaders committed to education as a power and liberating force in people’s lives. All nine recipients have served as catalysts within their districts, fostering positive school cultures and successfully finding new ways to engage students, families, educators and staff.
Cho has served as Wedgeworth Elementary School’s principal for 11 years. She aims to foster a team-centered philosophy, a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for students, staff, and families, and various innovative programs and electives for all students. The school’s notable programs include Computer Science Immersion, Dual Language Immersion, student leadership, life skills and art.
“Being the Principal at Wedgeworth Elementary School and working alongside our talented and hardworking educators and staff has been an immense honor,” Cho said. “I’m beyond grateful to have received this award and couldn’t have done it without our amazing team and strong support from our parents and Warriors community. Everything we do is for our students. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our school’s magnificent journey in making us a National Blue Ribbon School not once but twice!”
Cho uses project-based learning techniques derived from the District’s partnership with New Pedagogies for Deep Learning to empower students to get creative, collaborate and use critical thinking skills to solve problems. Under her leadership, she converted the school’s K-5 classrooms to a co-teaching model, providing Dual Language Immersion students access to both English- and Mandarin-speaking teachers to help develop proficiency in both languages.
Kenfield has contributed to many of Wilson High School’s successes during her nine years as principal, including expanding the Business, Biomedical Science, Engineering and Computer Science pathways. She also helped implement three new college and career pathways: Culinary Arts, Child Development and Visual Commercial Art.
Under her leadership, Wilson High has also been recognized as one of the nation’s top four percent of high schools, according to the 2023-24 Best High School rankings by U.S. News & World Report; clinched first place in the Southern California Science Olympiad Regionals for their second year in a row; and offered more than 40 unique and engaging clubs to Wildcat students.
“I am honored to serve in this District, to have been provided with so many opportunities to grow professionally and to work and serve alongside colleagues from whom I have learned a great deal,” Kenfield said. “This is my ninth year here and it’s been a labor of love because of my students. I want so much for them and their futures; that’s why I do what I do. Thank you to all my students, past and present, for being so amazing and to my dedicated team of educators, staff and faculty. None of this would be possible without each and every one of you.”
To be selected, principals are first nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process. The U.S. Department of Education, the National Association for Middle Level Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals bestow the Bell Award on a handful of principals each year.
The U.S. Department of Education will present the award to the administrators during the National Blue Ribbon Schools ceremony on Nov. 16. in Washington, D.C. As Bell recipients, awardees are also invited to share their success stories during a facilitated panel discussion on Nov. 17.
“On behalf of myself and the Board of Education, congratulations to our very own Dr. Paulina Cho and Dr. Danielle Kenfielf on receiving this award recognizing their exceptional educational leadership and guiding our students to excellence,” Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez said. “I firmly believe that all of our principals are among the best in the nation and this recognition is a testament to our leaders who work each day to facilitate strong school climates for our students and staff. Thank you for all that you do to ensure our students feel safe, valued and emotionally supported during their educational journeys here at Hacienda La Puente Unified.”
HLPUSD_BELLAWARD1: Wedgeworth Elementary School Principal Dr. Paulina Cho (top left) celebrates academic excellence, outstanding citizenship and perfect attendance during an end-of-the-year assembly in May 2023.
HLPUSD_BELLAWARD2: From left to right: Glen A. Wilson High School’s Assistant Principal David Purcey, Principal Dr. Danielle Kenfield and Assistant Principals Robert Hidalgo and Karen Ho celebrate being named a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School during a District viewing party on Sept. 19.