Wyoming's Principal of the Year Surprised by Students

An elementary principal got the surprise of his life, just as he thought everything was going wrong. It happened at Livingston Elementary school in Cody.

As Livingston Elementary Principal Mike Wood was called to the Superintendent’s office, the students and teachers filled the bleachers in the gym.

They were excited about the surprise they were planning for Mr. Wood. He was being graded by his boss.

Wood remembered, “I was actually down at the Superintendent’s office doing my evaluation.”

But everybody else, including the students, teachers, volunteers, and superintendent knew the real story.

One volunteer said, “He’s in a fake meeting now. And they told Mr. Wood that there’s an emergency in the gym, and that there’s a flood.”

Wood later said, “And I received a phone call that there was a heating problem up here, and an air duct problem, and water on the gymnasium floor, so I was a little worried about that…so I came on up, and when I got here, and the maintenance guys were here, and the head custodian.”

So, as Wood rushed back to the school, the kids did something unthinkable in a grade school: They got very quiet, until Mr. Wood walked in.

He found a standing ovation and non-stop clapping of hundreds of little hands, for their principal: Mr. Wood. He had been selected as Wyoming’s 2018 National Distinguished Principal.

Of course, there were tributes.

Last year’s winner, the principal at Thermopolis Middle School, Mrs. Daniels said, “Mr. Wood believes in growing teacher leaders.”

Cody Schools Superintendent Ray Schulte said to Mr. Wood, “What a great honor, what a great day for you, a great day for Livingston Elementary.”

The school choir sang a pirate song, and Mr. Wood played along.

Then, the day that started with stress and bad news, suddenly ended with a song from the entire school body.

The sand, “The world will change, the world will grow, it’s all because I know. Yes I know it starts with me.”

Wood will take his secrets of success to a meeting with educators from across the nation in Washington, D.C. His advice to other principals?

The award was sponsored by the Wyoming Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals.