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story.lead_photo.caption Theresa Cowling

Theresa Cowling, principal of North Heights Junior High School, has been named Regional Principal of the Year by Magnet Schools of America, the national association for magnet and theme-based schools.

The annual award recognizes exemplary magnet school principals from MSA's eight regions who demonstrate a strong commitment to maximizing learning opportunities for all students through theme-based education while setting high expectations within their schools and communities. Region 5 includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Cowling graduated from Lewisville, Ark., High School and earned a Bachelor of Science in education and a Master of Science in elementary education from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. During her 30-year career, she has served as teacher, gifted and talented coordinator, assistant principal and principal. Under her leadership at North Heights, the campus received the Shannon Wright Award and was recognized as a school of distinction by Magnet Schools of America in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Cowling said she believes it is important to communicate the school's culture and vision in every aspect of the school day.

"One of my goals is to encourage and support my staff as we work together towards academic success for all students," Cowling said in a press release. "It takes shared responsibilities and strong relationships with staff and students to truly impact student achievement."

She will be recognized and receive the award during MSA's National Conference to be held April 25-29 and hosted by Chicago Public Schools in Chicago. She is also eligible to be selected as the National Magnet School Principal of the Year, which will be announced on the last day of the national conference.

Regional Principals of the Year are acknowledged by their peers for noteworthy contributions made to their profession and have demonstrated excellence in the following areas:

  • Promoting equity and diversity among students and staff within their magnet school;
  • Providing equitable academic opportunities for all students;
  • Leadership implementing and sustaining an innovative magnet program;
  • Evidence of leadership within the school district and the magnet community.

Principals must be nominated to be eligible for Regional Principal of the Year recognition. They then must submit a narrative application and three recommendation letters, including one from a parent, one from a community partner and one from a co-worker or administrator. Candidates must be members of MSA and have served as their school's principal for a minimum of three years. All applications are reviewed and scored by a panel of magnet educators.

To learn more about the MSA Principal of the Year program, visit

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