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Principal of the Year Leads by Example

Amy Schott, MEd Education Leadership ’06, says being a principal is the “best of all worlds.”

“I love actively engaging with everyone each day to support the success of all students,” says Schott, who is principal of Henderson Elementary School in Woodbridge, Virginia.

In April, Schott was chosen as the Washington Post’s 2022 Principal of the Year from 14 finalists in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Schott became principal of Henderson in September 2021, having previously served as principal of Rockledge Elementary, also in Prince William County, for 13 years.

photo of Amy Schott greeting a student with school buses in the background

Amy Schott (right) greets a student at Henderson Elementary in Prince William County. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Carolyn Renk, a special education teacher at Henderson, says that what makes Schott special is how she fosters a positive school environment.

“She encourages teachers to be open and honest with her and each other to make the best decisions for students,” Renk says. “On the morning announcements each day, Amy tells students, ‘You are loved at Henderson, and you belong here.’ Hearing this message daily helps students and teachers feel a wonderful sense of community.”

Growing up, Schott vacillated between two careers—working with children and becoming an airline pilot. “At the end of high school, I chose to go into education. It’s a decision I don’t regret.”

Schott received her bachelor of science degree in early childhood education from Texas Christian University, then moved to Virginia to be near her brother. “He said, ‘Come to Virginia. It’s like Minnesota without the lakes,’” Schott says. “I always thought it was so funny because I learned that Virginia is nothing like Minnesota after I actually moved here.”

Schott established roots in the area, marrying and having two children. She began teaching English as a second language, as well as third-grade students, ultimately moving into administration.

Her Mason experience as an education leadership major helped prepare Schott for a variety of challenges and experiences. Schott keeps in touch with members of her Mason cohort. “It was a chance to meet with aspiring leaders in the same boat, work with them, and get to know them,” she says. “We established collegial professional relations that benefited us well past graduation.”

Schott enjoys mentoring other principals and helping them navigate both work and family, as she has learned to do through the years. “It’s a joy of mine to be able to help other principals and advocate for them.”

—Anna Stolley Persky