Denise Aloma, Catholic School Principal from the Archdiocese of Miami, Awarded the 2022 Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership

Leesburg, VA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) congratulates Denise Aloma, principal of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Archdiocese of Miami. Ms. Aloma is the only Catholic school principal among the nine awardees of the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the 2022 recipients selected from the 2022 cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools. Ms. Aloma and the other awardees were honored during the National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony, November 3 - 4, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Principal Aloma’s leadership is deeply rooted in the traditions of Catholic education, she embraces innovations to support the school’s academic offerings. Her commitment to ensuring that all students graduate with 21st century skills contributed to Saint Thomas becoming one of the first Catholic high schools in the country to adopt a STEM focus and has served as a model for other schools in effective STEM program implementation. She has also helped the school grow successful pre-professional programs, where students can explore pre-law, pre-med and pre-engineering. To help more students accelerate their learning and explore career pathways, she designed and implemented Saint Thomas’ Summer School Program, where students can get ahead in core content areas, giving them more flexibility with their schedules.

NCEA President/CEO Lincoln Snyder said, “Ms. Aloma’s recognition as a leader is a proud moment for her, her school and for all Catholic schools. The hard work that goes into making Catholic schools exceptional places of community, academic excellence and faith formation is a constant and we are lucky to have the dedication of educators such as Ms. Aloma to lead the way.”

Mr. Snyder joined Michael Schuttloffer, executive director of the Council for American Private Education, at the award ceremony to congratulate Ms. Aloma.

Named for the second U.S. secretary of education, Terrel H. Bell, the Bell Award honors school leaders who are committed to education as a powerful and liberating force in people’s lives. The award is part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. This year, Catholic schools were 22 of the 24 private schools recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Principals are nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process.

The U.S. Department of Education, together with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Association for Middle Level Education, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, present the Bell Awards to principals of National Blue Ribbon Schools for their outstanding work and the vital role they play in guiding their students and schools to excellence, frequently under challenging circumstances.

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In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, NCEA strengthens Catholic school communities by convening all stakeholders and providing professional development, data, advocacy and resources to support faith and intellectual formation.