Regional Principal of the Year

Drexel’s Gravel named Regional Principal of the Year
Posted on 01/04/2023
Morganton, NC – Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023

Drexel Elementary School Principal Jessie Gravel has been named Regional Principal of the Year for the Northwest Regional Education Service Alliance (NWRESA). The surprise announcement came during a student assembly at Drexel Elementary School, where Gravel has been the principal since 2019. Making the announcement in front of an excited crowd of students, staff and Gravel’s family members was Dr. Patrick Greene, the current Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year. Among those joining him were last year’s NWRESA Principal of the Year Dr. Heather Melton-Freeman, NWRESA Regional Education Facilitator Monica Shepard, and Dr. Mike Swan, Superintendent of Burke County Public Schools.

Gravel thanked Drexel students and staff following the announcement. She said, “I am truly honored and shocked. Thank you so much. Drexel’s success is because of the incredibly hard working men and women that come here every single day for the betterment of the lives of all these children right here. And I’m so grateful to be able to come to work and see you each day and laugh with you, cry with you, smile with you, so thank you.”

Gravel will go on to represent the region in the 2023 state principal of the year process that involves eight other regional principals of the year. The regional selection procedure includes an evaluation of candidates through a portfolio review and an interview. The state is divided into eight geographical regions and NC Charter Schools are clustered together to form the ninth region of the state. The state selection process continues with each regional finalist being interviewed and his/her portfolio reviewed by a state selection committee. The culmination of Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Program is a ceremony in Raleigh in May. Regional winners are asked to chair the regional selection committees tasked with finding their successor at the end of their term.

A 2005 graduate of East Burke High School, Gravel completed her bachelor’s of arts in French from UNC-Chapel Hill and started her teaching career at Randolph IB Middle School in Charlotte. She was a NC Principal Fellow at UNC-Charlotte and is currently working on her doctorate at Western Carolina University. Gravel is the daughter of Brady and Karen Linkous and followed in the footsteps of her mother, who was a teacher at Valdese Elementary School. She is married to Jack Gravel and they have three sons, Luke, Graham and Mac.

Swan said, “We are excited to have Mrs. Gravel represent Burke County Public Schools and the Northwest Region as Principal of the Year. While Mrs. Gravel was very surprised by this announcement today, it comes as no surprise to us. Mrs. Gravel’s compassion for students, drive to see them succeed and innovative, can-do spirit is evident, making her a great leader at Drexel and in our district. We wish her the best in the next step of this process.”

Burke County Public Schools’ last Regional Principal of the Year was recently retired Director of Exceptional Children Shane Mace when he was principal of East Burke Middle School in 2014.
In compliance with federal law, Burke County Public Schools administers all educational programs, employment activities, and admissions without discrimination against any person based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability.