Paw Creek Elementary throws surprise party to celebrate CMS Principal of the Year

Students and staff gathered in the school’s gym to celebrate Danielle Belton on Friday morning.
Paw Creek Elementary's Danielle Belton was recognized.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 12:29 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Today there was a very special surprise for one Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools principal.

The district had nine finalists for Principal of the Year, but it was Paw Creek Elementary School’s Danielle Belton who took home this year’s title.

To celebrate the occasion, all Paw Creek Elementary School students and staff huddled in the gym to throw Belton a big surprise party on Friday morning.

A teacher told Belton that there was an emergency in the gym and she needed to come right away. When she walked in, she realized what was actually going on.

“I’m elated, I’m in awe, I’m surprised, I’m just grateful,” Belton said. “This is definitely a shared celebration because my staff works so hard for kids each and every day.”

Students made and brought signs congratulating their principal for her well-deserved honor. Some people in the gym even donned Team Belton t-shirts.

CMS Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said that out of the 181 schools in the district, the Paw Creek principal was the clear choice.

Belton has been with the school for nine years now, and being a Title 1 high school graduate herself, she wanted to work in those schools and tap into the students’ talents.

“I’m at a loss for words because I do this work because it’s my heart’s work,” she said. “I do this work at Paw Creek because this is my family. I do this work because our kids deserve the most and the best.”

After being named the CMS Principal of the Year, she’s now up for the regional title.

If she wins that, she’ll go on to compete for North Carolina Principal of the Year.

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