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Woman who became principal at same school she integrated is now Polk Schools' Principal of the Year

Posted at 6:05 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 18:28:48-04

AUBURNDALE, Fla. — After working for Polk County Schools for more than half her life, the principal of Auburndale Central Elementary received the Principal of the Year award for Polk County Schools.

Octavia May started working for Polk County Schools 27 years ago as a paraeducator. From there, she became a teacher, then an assistant principal, and for the last ten years, she’s been a principal.

Octavia was even an administrator during the 2014-2015 school year for the same school she integrated in the late 70s, Carlton Palmore Elementary.

This year marks her sixth year as principal at Auburndale Central Elementary, and her first time earning the prestigious Principal of the Year nomination for Polk County Schools.

“I truly do it for the love of students. This is my ministry. Spreading the word of education to my students, to my staff, to my community and all stakeholders, I do it because I truly do love what I do,” said Octavia May.

Friends and colleagues describe Octavia as a passionate educator with boundless energy and positivity.

“She is a tornado of energy,” said Dr. Ben Henry, PCPS’ regional assistant superintendent who oversees Auburndale Central. “She is all over her campus. She wants to see how classrooms are functioning because she remains a teacher at heart.”

According to Polk County Schools, the Principal of the Year nomination means Octavia has shown excellence in being an administrator, and has also created a successful academic culture for students and staff.

Not an easy task, as she’s done it all as the mother of six children.

Octavia will now face administrators from across the state as part of the Florida Department of Education’s Outstanding Principal Achievement Award Program.