Polk County Public Schools Announces Principals of the Year

Polk County Public Schools Announces Principals of the Year

Combined headshot of Gray and Miranda

There are many excellent principals throughout Polk County Public Schools, but every year we have the pleasure of highlighting some of our very best school leaders.

We are happy to announce that Rodrick Gray from Laurel Elementary is our Principal of the Year for 2022-23. Sarah Miranda from Mulberry Middle is our Assistant Principal of the Year.

The two outstanding administrators were honored last night during the Polk County School Board meeting. Pat Barnes, the regional superintendent who oversees Laurel Elementary, said the school has seen significant improvement in its state rating under Gray’s leadership. She also praised Gray for the way he treats students, staff and families.

“He has tremendous love for his students, it’s evident every day … he’s always searching for the best ways to be an advocate for them,” Barnes said. “His staff will tell you that while he leads with passion, he’s very kind and compassionate, and he encourages them to be their very best, all the time.”

An emotional Gray addressed school board members and the audience.

“I really want to come in every day to do my best … letting my parents and my staff and students know I’m here with you – I’m going to be in this fight with you, not just telling you what to do, but I’m going to be here right by your side,” Gray said. “I really do appreciate this (award), it is an honor, it’s going to make me work just as hard so that you don’t regret this.”

Group photo with Gray

Rebecca Raulerson, the regional superintendent who supervises Mulberry Middle, said Miranda is a champion for her students and staff, as well as the Mulberry community. She said Miranda has a talent for developing and supporting initiatives that benefit her entire school. She also said that Miranda makes it a priority to recognize staff for their hard work.

“She builds strong relationships with her teachers and students,” Raulerson told PCPS. “She encapsulates what it truly means to be an assistant principal. She’s a hard worker, she’s dedicated, and she’s all about making sure students reach their potential and have the opportunities they deserve. Those are the things we look for in candidates to become principals.”

Miranda said she is grateful for all of the support she has received in her career as an administrator.

“I am so thankful to have had such great leaders that got me to this space, and I hope to give that leadership back to those that I serve,” she said. “I just am so appreciative for this opportunity to go and demonstrate that this (award) was given for a reason.”

Group photo with Miranda

Gray and Miranda are our district’s nominees to be considered for the statewide Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year awards presented by the Florida Department of Education. We are proud to have them represent Polk County Public Schools.