Dr. Dilhani Uswatte Named Alabama's 2020 NAESP National Distinguished Principal

Rocky Ridge Elementary School Principal Dr. Dilhani Uswatte Named Alabama's 2020 NAESP National Distinguished Principal Sponsored by Classworks and Interior Elements
Mar 3, 2020 by Alyssa Godfrey, Director of Communications & Technology

Hoover, Ala – February 28, 2020: Dr. Dilhani Uswatte, principal of Rocky Ridge Elementary School in the Hoover City School System, has been named Alabama’s 2020 NAESP National Distinguished Principal by the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators (AAESA). The NAESP National Distinguished Principal program was established by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). The award was presented today at a surprise ceremony at Rocky Ridge Elementary School.

Uswatte’s educational career began in 1997 as a math and science teacher in Ontario, Canada. In 2002, she taught at Berry Miiddle School until 2010 when she was chosen as the Assistant Principal at Rocky Ridge Elementary School. In 2014, Uswatte assumed the Rocky Ridge Elementary School principalship.  Dr. Uswatte earned two batchelor’s degrees from Queens University in Ontario. Upon moving to Alabama, she obtained a Master’s degree, an Education Specialist degree, and a Doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Uswatte considers her most significant accomplishments as a principal are earning International STEM Certification in April 2019, receiving the 2019 CLAS Leadership Award, and initiating the State and National Milken Educators Mentoring Program in 2012. In her time at Rocky Ridge, Uswatte has also led efforts to redefine the vision through the development of the Rocky Ridge Culture and Climate Team which led to significant learning gap closures in math and reading as well as a 2% overall school performance gain in math and 4% in reading.

“I am in a position to visit and meet the nation’s most talented educators. Dr. Uswatte is in the top 1% of that elite group,” said Hoover City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kathy Murphy in a recommendation letter. “When I toured her school, I saw the depth and breadth of her innovation, leadership, and influence on students, staff, and community.”

“Dr. Uswatte’s leadership abilities never cease to amaze. Since winning the 2019 CLAS Leadership Award, I knew more great things were in store, and now she has earned the designation of Alabama’s NAESP National Distinguished Principal. This is an incredible honor and she is to be commended for her excellence as a school leader.” comments CLAS/AAESA Executive Director Dr. Vic Wilson.

The Alabama NAESP National Distinguished Principal program is presented by the Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators (AAESA) and is sponsored by Classworks. An office makeover is provided to the recipient by Interior Elements. Each year, the winner receives a trip to Washington, D.C., for the NAESP National Distinguished Principal Awards Ceremony.

Uswatte will be recognized at the Awards Luncheon during the CLAS Convention on June 16, 2020, at the Montgomery Renaissance.  The CLAS Annual Summer Convention is the largest gathering of school leaders in the state of Alabama.  She will also be recognized at the AAESA Fall Conference in November 2020.

About the NAESP National Distinguished Principal Award: Each year, NDPs represent Pre-K through grade 8 public schools from all across the country as well as principals in U.S. private schools and those from the United States Departments of Defense Office of Educational Activity and the United States Department of State Office of Overseas Schools. Public school elementary and middle-level principals are nominated by peers in their state, and final selections are made by committees appointed by each of NAESP’s state affiliate offices. Honorees from private schools and overseas schools are selected by special committees.

About AAESA and CLAS: The Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators  is an affiliate association of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS).  CLAS is an umbrella association that serves eleven different affiliates comprised of Alabama’s public school administrators.  CLAS is dedicated to providing the framework to connect dedicated school administrators and other successful leaders with a network for professional growth and support.  For more information, visit

About Classworks: Classworks is K-8 digital instruction in math, reading, and language arts proven to help students become critical thinkers and independent learners. Classworks provides individualized instruction for every student based on their assessment results to close learning gaps. Classworks also delivers on-grade level, rigorous lessons for the classroom that helps teachers teach through technology. Classworks results-driven, engaging educational solutions are built upon strong instructional pedagogy and technological innovation to improve teaching and learning.

About Interior Elements: Interior Elements is a furniture dealer that services the K-12 market. Each year, Interior Elements provides an office makeover for the Alabama NAESP National Distinguished Principal

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