• Home
  • Jacket News
  • News
  • Abraham named Mississippi's National Distinguished Principal program recipient

Abraham named Mississippi's National Distinguished Principal program recipient

Morgan Abraham honored with state-wide award

The cheers could be heard around the block as Sudduth Elementary preK, kindergarten and first grade students celebrated their favorite principal for her state-wide honor on Wednesday in the Sudduth Gym.

Sudduth principal, Dr. Morgan Abraham, has been selected by the Mississippi Association of Elementary School Administrators as Mississippi's award-winner in the National Distinguished Principal program for elementary school principals. She will represent the state of Mississippi in October at the National Distinguished Principal program. The student body and staff at Sudduth surprised Dr. Abraham with a special announcement assembly on Wednesday afternoon to inform her about the award.

"I'm just so surprised," Dr. Abraham said after the assembly. "I want to extend heartfelt gratitude for being nominated for this award. It is truly an honor to be selected as Mississippi's representative in the National Distinguished Principal program, and I look forward to collaborating with other winners from around the country to advocate for educators and students."

Morgan Abraham honored by students and staff for statewide award

The National Distinguished Principals (NDP) program was established in 1984 to recognize elementary and middle level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staffs in their learning communities. Public school elementary and middle level principals are nominated by peers in their respective states, and selections are made by appointed committees in each state-level affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

"Dr. Abraham is very deserving of this state-wide award, and we are very proud of her," said Dr. Tony McGee, Superintendent of the Starkville Oktibbeha School District. "As principal for our PreK through first grade students at Sudduth, she has worked with her staff to create a vibrant learning environment for our youngest Yellow Jackets to begin their educational journey, and each day sets our boys and girls on a path to excellence."

Abraham joined the Starkville Oktibbeha School District in 2019 as principal at Sudduth Elementary and has shepherded the school through the successful implementation of a PreK program, MakerSpace, playground redesign and building renovations, and has worked with families as the district transitioned to a modified calendar. During her tenure, she has fostered a 21st century approach to early learning using multi-sensory instruction where teachers engage students through sight, hearing, movement and touch to help them connect in more than one way to what they are learning. In addition, Dr. Abraham has a commitment to developing community partnerships that can create opportunities for students. In 2021, the Sudduth Seeds Garden, a partnership with the Oktibbeha County Master Gardeners received the Governor's Award for partnership excellence for the creation of a learning garden on the Sudduth campus.

"I am so fortunate," Dr. Abraham said, "to be surrounded by so many wonderful educators at Sudduth, not to mention our amazing students and their families. We are blessed as so many of our families and other community members are engaged in helping Sudduth succeed and creating a safe and fun place for our students to thrive."

NAESP established the National Distinguished Principals program to highlight the important role school administrators play in children's early education. The award criteria is predicated on the idea that a child's attitude toward learning is established in the beginning school years and that an elementary principal has a unique impact on the culture, quality and scope of a child's educational experience.

Morgan Abraham with SOSD Assistant Superintendents Anna Guntharp and Dr. Vernita Wilson"Principals often set the tone," said Anna Guntharp, SOSD Assistant Superintendent. "Dr. Abraham works tirelessly with the teachers and staff at Sudduth – with all the adults in the building – to create a warm and inviting environment for students as well as families. That, along with her high expectations for creating hands-on learning experiences and rigorous student-centered instruction, has really made Sudduth a place families love to attend!"

It is that positive environment that stands out to many of the teachers at Sudduth when they talk about the impact Dr. Abraham makes every day as they work with students and families.

"Dr. Abraham creates a positive work environment where everyone feels valued and supported," said Carrie Powell, an award-winning Sudduth kindergarten teacher. "She is encouraging to all staff, helping them strive to reach their full potential."

"From the day she arrived, Dr. Abraham has been a light at Sudduth and within the SOCSD community," shared Karis Cobb, a first grade teacher at Sudduth. "She always has a special way of making new families feel welcome and her staff members feel valued."

Mrs. Cobb also shared about how important consistency is in creating success in an elementary school, and describes that as one of Dr. Abraham's strengths along with her commitment to striving for improvement. Some of that consistency comes from having served public schools in a variety of roles and also her desire to further her education in order to offer best practices to her staff and students.

Prior to joining Starkville Oktibbeha School District, Dr. Abraham worked in the Tupelo School District as a kindergarten teacher, instructional coach and Assistant Principal. Through her experience in multiple roles from the classroom to mentoring other teachers to leading at the building level, she has gained insight into the needs of younger students and the expectations of their parents. In December 2023, Dr. Abraham earned her PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi.

"One of the things I appreciate the most about Dr. Abraham is her consistency," Cobb said. "She is consistent in the way she advocates for her teachers and students, consistent in finding the best resources and support for her school, and consistent in continuing her education so she can be a better principal for her school. Most of all, she works diligently to consistently make Sudduth a better place to work and learn. At Sudduth, we are so proud of Dr. Abraham, and we can't think of a better person to receive this high honor!"

As Mississippi's award-winner for the NDP program, Dr. Abraham will travel to Washington DC to represent the state at the National Distinguished Principals award event in October. She will have the opportunity to network, share best practices, and learn from other state winners from around the country.