Paul Covey, principal of Valle Verde Early College High School (VVECHS) in the Ysleta Independent School District (YISD), has won the coveted 2017 Terrel H. Bell Award for serving as an outstanding school leader and playing a vital role in guiding students and schools to excellence, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Wednesday.
Covey, who has led the 400-student VVECHS since 2009, was one of only eight principals in the nation – and the only principal in the state of Texas – to win this year’s Bell Award.
It is named in honor of the second U.S. Secretary of Education, who held education as his highest priority and trusted that all students would find it as their personal key to success, just as he had.
Bell Award winners are chosen every year from among the principals whose campuses are designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools. The principals nominated for this award are committed to fostering successful teaching and learning at their schools and doing whatever it takes to help their students meet high standards, officials said.
“It’s a privilege to honor this year’s Bell awardees and to recognize them for their achievement,” DeVos said. “Through their work, these principals show that when effective leadership is coupled with high expectations, we can expect great results for all of our nation’s students.”
Covey and the other seven Bell Award winners are dedicated to education as both a powerful and liberating force in people’s lives, officials said. They will be honored during the National Blue Ribbon Schools awards ceremony on Nov. 6 in Washington, D.C.
VVECHS was the 11th YISD school to become a National Blue Ribbon School.
At VVECHS, students commit to a rigorous, four-year curriculum in order to graduate with a high-school diploma and an associate’s degree from El Paso Community College.
About 93 percent of its graduates go on to attend four-year colleges and universities.
Under Covey’s leadership, the school has been recognized multiple times as an Apple Distinguished School, a Texas Early College High School Demonstration School, and was listed in 2016 as the top-ranked public high school in the El Paso region by U.S. News & World Report and Newsweek.
A brief summary of Covey’s work at VVECHS is available online.