Toby Cone named Principal of the Year
by Kellen Moore
Toby Cone of Cove Creek Elementary was recognized Monday as Watauga County Schools' Principal of the Year for 2013-14.
Cone, who is now in his third year at the school, was selected by his fellow principals for the award and will now compete for regional and state Principal of the Year.
A group of students, teachers, staff and central office administrators called Cone to the media center at Cove Creek on Monday afternoon saying only that he needed to deal with "a situation."
"This is better than I expected," he said upon learning of his award.
Prior to joining Cove Creek, Cone was assistant principal at Parkway School for three years and also served as assistant principal of Elkin Elementary, about an hour from Boone. He also worked for more than 10 years at Bethel Elementary as a media and technology specialist.
A Vermont native, Cone earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of New Hampshire and two master's degrees from Appalachian State University: one in educational media and technology and another in school administration.
While working toward his administrator's degree, Cone had an opportunity to act as an intern at several other local elementary schools, he said.
"You can't go wrong with any of the schools in Watauga County," Cone said, praising the students, parents, staff and faculty at Cove Creek. "We're very fortunate in Watauga County to get the cream of the crop."
Cone received a bundle of balloons and gifts, including a $500 check and a commemorative plaque, to accompany his award.
"He always makes decisions by putting students first," said Human Resources Director Stephen Martin. "That's to be commended."
Several classes of students popped into the library Monday after Cone's recognition to say congratulations. Cove Creek currently serves 302 students in pre-K through eighth grade.
"He is outstanding," said Board of Education member Barbara Kinsey. "He's like the perfect roll-up of everything that you hope to find in a teacher as well as an administrator."
Cone comes from a family of educators.
His father was a principal and his mother a teacher, he said. His family
includes his wife, Louise, a school psychologist in Avery County, and daughters
Gillian and Kate.
The surprise visit, pushed back from the morning due to a two-hour delay, was nearly delayed again, as Cone was feeling under the weather and considered leaving school for the day.
"I think I might call it a day now and go home," Cone said with a laugh after receiving the award.