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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #19-71
October 25, 2019
Contact: Jonathan Mendick
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Congratulates Fresno Principal for Winning National Award

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated Liberty Elementary School Principal George Peterson, winner of the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership. The U.S. Department of Education announced earlier this week that Peterson is one of 10 principals nationwide to win the award, and he will be honored during the National Blue Ribbon Schools awards ceremony on Thursday, November 14 in Washington, D.C.

“Peterson is a confident and compassionate leader,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “When he became principal of Liberty Elementary School 12 years ago, one of his first priorities was to establish a caring, relational administration style with a shared leadership model. He meets regularly with both teachers and students—a great way to build trust and have enthusiastic staff and successful students.”

Under Peterson’s guidance, the school became one of the first in the district to use Flexible Seating to facilitate student collaboration. The move toward student-centered learning inspired the school’s “Collaboratory,” located in the hub of the school, which serves as a model of individualized instruction, research, and student participation. Principal Petersen supported teachers as they experimented with this idea, which in turn, allowed students to take risks and pursue opportunities specific to their interests.

Named for the second U.S. Secretary of Education, the Bell Award honors school leaders who are committed to education as a powerful and liberating force in people’s lives. The award is part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Principals are nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process. Liberty Elementary was recognized as a 2018 California Distinguished School and was among 30 schools chosen as a National Blue Ribbon School in 2019.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, August 9, 2021
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