Royse City ISD Educator Named 2024 NAESP National Distinguished Principal for Texas

Royse City ISD Principal Wendy Prater has been named the 2024 NAESP National Distinguished Principal for Texas. Prater will be recognized at the TEPSA Awards Celebration Wednesday, June 12, at the Round Rock Kalahari during the TEPSA Summer Conference.

Building strong relationships with teachers, students and parents, Wendy Prater has created a positive and collaborative student-centered learning environment at Fort Elementary in Royse City ISD. Under Prater’s leadership, Fort Elementary’s focus on relationship-building has contributed to higher student achievement, higher teacher retention and higher community engagement. Prater’s exceptional leadership and commitment to learners on her campus have led her to be named the 2024 NAESP National Distinguished Principal of the Year for Texas by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA).

“Fort Elementary is a campus where many veteran teachers are loyal to the Fort campus and value Wendy as a leader,” Royse City ISD Executive Director of Elementary Schools Amy Hopkins wrote in her recommendation letter. “She is attentive to staff needs, solicits feedback and continues to build a culture of high expectation…Her Fort families are very involved in campus life.”

Prater and her staff, known as the Fort Fam, are passionate about ensuring every learner on campus—from students to teachers—have the support they need to grow and meet their learning goals. Each year, teachers and administrators set their own professional and student growth goals and work together to track progress. After every assessment, the staff meets in their PLC groups to share data, discuss growth, and plan next steps. The staff has also created multiple ways for students to set and achieve their own goals throughout the year. When students meet their instructional goals, they visit Prater to celebrate and receive a token to use in the school’s book vending machine. During parent conferences, teachers share data reports to help parents understand their child’s academic journey.

“Wendy has intentionally fostered trust and built a strong connection between staff and parents to ensure student success,” TEPSA Executive Director Harley Eckhart said. “She has created a united and dedicated community focused on providing students a safe and engaging learning environment.”

During Prater’s six-year tenure, Fort Elementary, a Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School, has become a dynamic hub for grant-writing expertise. Teachers are encouraged to apply for grants and tap into a supportive school network of resources. Prater meets with teachers to discuss their ideas, and teachers help each other with grant writing. For the 2023-2024 school year, the school was awarded $32,000 in grants by the Royse City ISD Education Foundation—breaking a record for the school with the most grants awarded in the district. Funds have been used to enhance the learning experience for students and increase accessibility including providing classroom technology, a sensory room for students, a speech board on the playground to help nonverbal students communicate at recess, a walking trail of books, and more.

Prater and her school will receive $2,500 each courtesy of long-time TEPSA partner Curriculum Associates. She will also be recognized throughout the year, including at the NAESP awards gala in Washington, DC.

“We are proud to help TEPSA recognize such a deserving leader,” said Claudia Salinas, Vice President of English Learning at Curriculum Associates. “Wendy Prater is committed to her students and the greater

community. Her deep knowledge of best practices in curriculum and instruction is supporting meaningful gains for students in Royse City ISD.”

Sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the National Distinguished Principals program honors outstanding elementary and middle-level administrators who ensure that America’s children acquire a sound foundation for lifelong learning and achievement. The program was established in 1984 to recognize and celebrate elementary and middle-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staff in their learning communities. Learn more at

Founded in 1969, Curriculum Associates, LLC designs research-based print and online instructional materials, screens and assessments, and data management tools. The company’s products and outstanding customer service provide teachers and administrators with the resources necessary for teaching diverse student populations and fostering learning for all students.

TEPSA, whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member-owned and member-governed, TEPSA represents more than 6,000 members who direct the activities of more than 3 million PK-8 schoolchildren.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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