By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A Cincinnati Public Schools principal won an award Wednesday that has been likened to an Oscar for educators.
Laura (Lumpkin) Mitchell, principal of Westwood Elementary, was surprised at school when state officials presented her with the $25,000 National Educator Award by the Milken Family Foundation.
Mrs. Mitchell at first thought state officials were visiting as part of the district's planned $1 billion construction project.
"I am very, very honored, but I don't take credit for this for myself,'' she said. "A leader is only as good as the people around them."
Mrs. Mitchell came to Cincinnati in 1993 from Athens, Ga., where she was an elementary teacher. She taught for five years at Cincinnati's Central Fairmount Elementary School, before she was named assistant principal at Westwood in August 1998. She was named principal the following year.
Mrs. Mitchell was recognized in part for her efforts to turn around a persistently low-achieving school.
Two years ago, the school slipped into the lowest rating in CPS' rankings system. Teachers and administrators credit Mrs. Mitchell's leadership with helping the school to reach the highest category this year.
"She has the art of causing everyone with whom she works to embrace the shared vision," said Rosa Blackwell, the district's acting superintendent.
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