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OAESP Principal of the Year

OAESP Principal of the Year


OKLAHOMA CITY (April 28, 2021) – The Oklahoma Association of Elementary School Principals (OAESP) is pleased to announce Mark Lea, Principal at Stilwell Grade School with Stilwell Public Schools, as the OAESP Oklahoma Principal of the Year. OAESP also named Reuben Bellows, Principal at Earl Harris Elementary School with Bethany Public Schools, as the OAESP Principal of Excellence.  Bill Pierce, Principal of Surrey Hills Elementary School with Yukon Public Schools, is the James Burnette Principal of Distinction.  The award winners will be recognized during the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration Summer Leadership Conference on June 8, 2021 – June 10, 2021.

The OAESP Administrator of the Year Awards promote leadership in elementary education by recognizing individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools through programs that exemplify the highest standards and promote student achievement.  Award winners serve as inspirational leaders to OAESP— they embody the core values of serving students and being committed to their school communities. 


“In a recent Educational Leadership professional journal, their research reflected that strong principals have mastered these domains of skills --instruction, people and the organization,” said Dr. Pam Deering, CCOSA Executive Director.  “On behalf of CCOSA, I want to congratulate these principal leaders who demonstrate these skills that effective principals rely on to impact student achievement. We are grateful for their dedication and commitment to the profession, their students, staff, and community.”


Stilwell Public Schools Superintendent Geri Gilstrap stated, “Mr. Lea stands out as a servant leader as he is steadfast daily in his service for others. He quietly leads by example as if it is effortless. This passion and care for others has created a positive culture that threads itself not only throughout the school but the community as a whole.”


Mark Lea is described as a strong leader with a vision that provides support to current students and teachers but also keeps in mind the importance of the community in which he serves.  Former superintendent and community leader Dan Collins stated, “We are lucky to have a person of Mark’s ability to lead this school.” 


Mr. Lea’s leadership has even led to the creation of a class at Stilwell Grade School that teaches students the Cherokee Language and the important role it plays in their community. 


“Mr. Lea is described as a genuine servant leader who does not seek credit for the work he does.  He is willing to do the hard work that allows his teachers to focus on teaching kids,” states OAESP Executive Director Glen Abshere.  “We are honored to have Mark represent OAESP as the Oklahoma Principal of the Year.”


For more information about the OAESP Administrator of the Year Awards, please visit



The Oklahoma Association of Elementary School Principals (OAESP) is a professional association organized for the purpose of improving elementary and middle-level education (PreK-8th grade) by providing information and leadership, encouraging research/service, and promoting high professional standards for Oklahoma administrators.  OAESP is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and a constituent association of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA).