FLINT TWP. — Maria Cox, principal of Woodland Elementary, was a recipient of a Regional Honors Award at the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA) 86th Annual State Conference held last month in Kalamazoo.
Cox’s achievement also was recognized by the Carman-Ainsworth Board of Education at its meeting last week.
MEMSPA is a professional association serving more than 1200 members, divided into 14 regions. Its Regional Honors Award is presented annually to one administrator in each region, nominated by their peers and approved by the region’s executive board. Cox is the Region 10 winner.
She was recognized for her educational leadership and commitment to enriching the educational lives of Woodland students. She was described as a “servant leader” who always is ready to help teachers, students, parents and staff make the school a better place.
Cox has been Woodland’s principal since 2004, a time period that has been hard hit by the struggling local economy, said CA Superintendent Bill Haley.
“ Mrs. Cox has gone above and beyond her duties on many, many occasions to support children and families.,” he said. “She and her staff understand the true meaning of “serving” the Woodland community.”
Eighty-five percent of Woodland students qualify for free or reduced lunches – the largest percentage in the CA district. Woodland also has the highest student mobility rate — 51 percent — which correlates with lower achievement, according to many studies. But with support from teachers and families, Woodland students annually meet Adequate Yearly Progress state and federal accountability mandates. This year, Woodland students led the district in MEAP scores for fifth-grade math and reading.
Cox commented that is was an honor and “very humbling” to be recognized by her peers. She credited support from the administration and other principals in the district.
Cox taught in the classroom 17 years including 16 in Texas and one year at Swartz Creek Middle School.
A resident of Swartz Creek, she began working for C-A as an assistant principal in 1999 at Woodland, Dillon and Randels elementary schools before becoming assuming her present position at Woodland.
Her education philosophy is that “all students can learn, even those from less privileged circumstances.” To that end, Cox strives to provide educational opportunities at Woodland including field trips, nutrition education programs and after-school activities such as Zumba, a fun run and a career fair.