Gwyn Russell

New Albany Elementary School
New Albany Public Schools
New Albany, Mississippi

As principal of New Albany Elementary School (NAES) for the past five years, Gwyn Russell has drawn on her experience as a teacher, coach, and special education director to enact positive academic and cultural change. Her implementation of the school’s “Bulldog Best” PBIS system led to a 50 percent decrease in office referrals in just two years. Behind the scenes, Russell invested heavily in PLC-based relationship-building to support staff in creating the shared language needed to provide students with consistent community-wide expectations. At the same time, Russell led a professional shift into a culture of assessment. Embracing a model of “I do, We do, You do,” NAES teachers now build mini-assessments into all lesson plans to enable immediate, on-the-spot reinforcement or intervention. These combined efforts have not only grown the school’s nurturing environment, but they have helped move the school into A status and recently earned NAES status as a Lighthouse Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. The school continues to expand learning opportunities for its students and is preparing to launch the Discovery Bus, a STEM lab housed in a repurposed school bus featuring 3D printers, STEM workstations, and other tools to facilitate 21st century, project-based learning. A champion of shared leadership, Russell finds that she grows best by mentoring and supporting others. She holds a Master’s degree from Arkansas State University and a B.S. from Blue Mountain College.