SF principal wins national honor

By Jill Tucker | SF Chronicle 

A San Francisco principal was nationally recognized as the best among the best Tuesday, winning the prestigious Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership from the federal Department of Education.

Liana Szeto, Alice Fong Yu principal

Liana Szeto, of Alice Fong Yu Alternative Elementary School, was one of seven principals from across the country to win the Bell award.

The winners were chosen from among the 314 principals whose schools won a Blue Ribbon Award, the highest national honor for a school.

“You can’t have a great school without a great principal,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a statement Tuesday. “It’s the principal who shapes the vision and sets the tone for their school.  It’s the principal who inspires and models the excellence he or she knows their school can reach. We don’t celebrate success enough in education – and the Bell Award recognizes these principals for the essential work they do every day.”

In the 1980s, Szeto founded and taught at Alice Fong Yu, which at the time was a one-of-a-kind Chinese immersion school. She later became its principal and more recently, converted the school to a K-8 program.
The school was the first of what would become more than a dozen language immersion programs in the district.