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JCPS Principal and AP of the Year value teamwork, community

Dr. Kerri Evans, principal of Swift Creek Middle School, was selected as the 2020-2021 Principal of the Year for Johnston County Public Schools. Carson Cataliotti, assistant principal of South Smithfield Elementary School, was selected as the 2020-2021 Assistant Principal of the Year for Johnston County Public Schools.

Evans and Cataliotti were surprised with the recognition in front of their families and JCPS staff at their respective schools on Friday, Oct. 30.

Evans has served as the principal at Swift Creek Middle since the school’s opening in 2017.

“This was a proud moment for me. We have worked so hard to build our Swift Creek community and culture since we opened in 2017,” said Evans. “At the moment that I was named Principal of the Year I thought, ‘This is for all of us. This is for all of the hard work that has gone into building Swift Creek over the last three years.’”

Cataliotti has served as the assistant principal at South Smithfield Elementary since 2017.

“It was such a high honor to be named Assistant Principal of the Year,” said Cataliotti. “I’ve served for 13 years in Johnston County Public Schools. This is my fourth year as AP, and to be named Assistant Principal of the Year was very exciting. Assistant principals are sometimes behind the scenes, so to be recognized was a true surprise.”

The Amy Renfrow Leadership Principal of the Year Award is named after former Corinth-Holders Elementary principal Amy Renfrow. The awards are given through the Johnston County Principal and Assistant Principal Association (JCPAPA).

The Johnston County Education Foundation awarded Evans with a check in the amount of $1,000 ($500 for personal use and $500 for her school) and Cataliotti with an award check in the amount of $500.

Both Evans and Cataliotti were nominated by their colleagues to receive the award.

Evans is described by her colleagues as someone who has impeccable judgement and character, as well as someone who truly cares about her students and staff. She is known for working hard to ensure that all of her teammates and students succeed.

“Working with Dr. Evans is one of the highlights of my career,” said Swift Creek Middle Assistant Principal Isaac Bruton. “She is the epitome of leadership. She loves her staff and her staff loves her. We all work as one team, and she is very collaborative.”

Cataliotti is described by her colleagues as someone who never stops learning as well as someone who always advocates for teachers. She is known for being a strong leader, approachable, and caring.

“Mrs. Cataliotti brings so much joy to our school every single day. The passion that she has for students is evident,” said South Smithfield Principal Laura Makey.

Both women are known among their colleagues and students for their teamwork, servant leadership, and dedication to their communities.

“I love serving the students and the staff here,” said Cataliotti. “I believe heavily on distributive leadership. We are only as smart as the person next to us. Building on the strengths and talents of others is so important to me so that we can be the best school that we can be. Teamwork is everything. We have to work together to meet the needs of our students.”

Evans said she is humbled by the outpouring of community support she has received since the school first opened. She said students, staff, and parents alike all see themselves as a part of the Swift Creek Wolf Pack.

“I am so proud of our school, teachers, students, and community. We have such an amazing team here,” said Evans. “Middle school is such a great place to be. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love our community atmosphere, and I love my students.”

Evans and Cataliotti were both raised by educators and former administrators and found a passion for education early in life.

“Both of my parents were principals. I’ve been around the school setting since I was a child. I’ve spent years being in an environment with educators,” said Evans. “It was a proud moment to know that all of the work that went into my schooling to be the best middle level educator I can be has paid off.”

Cataliotti said that as a young girl she would often play school with her stuffed animals, and even asked for an overhead projector for Christmas one year.

“My dad was my elementary school principal and my mom was my middle school principal. I guess leadership runs in the family,” said Cataliotti. “I just knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher. Being a first grade teacher was my heart for such a long time. I decided to go into administration because I viewed a school as a bigger classroom, and that is exactly what it has been like for me. I love being able to have a bigger impact on my students.”

Evans and Cataliotti will represent Johnston County Public Schools over the 2020-2021 school year as the Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year.

Both Evans and Cataliotti said they hope to continue working with their teachers and staff to continue building a sense of community in their schools over the next year.