CMS Names 2019 Principal of the Year

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools named Emily Miles, principal of Sterling Elementary, as the 2019 Principal of the Year.

Miles was surprised by CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston at a ceremony held in the school’s auditorium.

Southwest Learning Community Superintendent Steve Esposito said Miles is a dynamic leader. “She is passionate and energetic. She takes great pride in building relationships and improving the educational experience for all of her students,” he said. “In addition, Dr. Miles works tirelessly to build capacity among her teachers and teacher leaders to influence positive change as it relates to student and staff culture and student achievement.”

Sterling is a special place for Miles. She was the school’s literacy facilitator from 2008 to 2013 and then became the school’s assistant principal. She left to become Montclaire Elementary’s principal. “It was so exciting for me to be able to come back home to Sterling,” said Miles. “This school has some of the most amazing, hardworking teachers I’ve ever been around that really care about kids.”

Miles grew up in Syracuse, N.Y. and intended to major in computer science. “I did that for a couple of years and then realized I don’t want to be in computer science and I don’t want to live somewhere that’s cold all the time.”

She moved to Charlotte and earned her undergraduate degree from UNC Charlotte. She also earned literacy and school administration master’s degrees from Queens University and her doctorate from Wingate University.

Miles taught for five years before becoming a literacy facilitator. “I had others that saw potential in me and said I could be a great leader,” she said. “I didn’t see it in myself and always said I didn’t want to be a principal. Two years later, I was in the principal chair! I love helping people and being a principal is really about being a teacher.”

Miles still has a strong passion for literacy. “I feel like that time between Pre-K and second grade is what will make a school successful,” she said.

Half of Sterling’s teachers are experienced and the other half are in their first three years of teaching. Her school is a Master Mentor school where teachers have monthly professional development to enhance their skills. Other schools send teachers to Sterling to observe and learn from these sessions. “Teaching is one of the hardest jobs a person can have,” said Miles. “It is about relationships and people and highs and lows. It is good for new teachers to see that veteran teachers don’t have all the answers. We stick together to make sure we are all at the highest level.”

Miles and her staff have also worked on making the school a place where adults and students love to come. “I am happy to walk in the front door every morning,” she said. “Kids want to be here. Adults want to be here. Kids are getting what they need.”

Outside of work, Miles and her husband have three children. Her oldest son plays lacrosse and her daughter is a cheerleader. “I spend my weekends being a sports mom and carting my three kids around,” said Miles.

Her youngest son is in pre-kindergarten at Sterling. “That is how much I believe in this school,” said Miles. “I send my own child here.”