Michelle White

When Michelle D. White became principal of D.F. Walker Elementary (DFW), a large, rural elementary school serving grades three through five, she was determined to lead the school out of low-performance status by championing a “children first philosophy.” With unflagging energy and commitment, she immediately set out to turn the school around. Over the last three years, she has integrated new curricular programming across content areas, implemented block scheduling to prioritize reading and math, and developed frameworks to align instruction with high performance standards—and the results have been spectacular. In just two years, overall student achievement increased by 35 percent and the school improved its School Accountability Grade from a “D” to a “B,” with progress toward an “A” for the next school year. In the course of this transformation, White designed a PLC program to support teachers in developing data-driven best practices and implemented PBIS to restore the school’s positive atmosphere. These efforts have led to a 20% improvement in teacher assessments and an impressive 80% in behavioral referrals; White now has the distinction of guiding two schools to recognition as PBIS Exemplar Schools for the state of North Carolina for multiple years. Principal White holds a B.A. in Music Education and a M.Ed. in Instructional Technology from East Carolina University, as well as an M.Ed. in School Leadership from Elizabeth City State University.