828.485.2980 ext. 303
Dr. Heather Benfield is serving as the principal at Challenger Early College in Hickory and is in her sixth year. Prior to the principalship, she started with a teaching career and then became a director for the state-wide innovative initiative to support high school redesign and new ways of thinking about school. As a director, she led schools and districts through instructional and cultural remodeling.
Heather’s passion for students leads faculties to collaboration and professional excellence, which then creates a growth enviroment, increased state-testing results, and, more importantly, increased non-traditional data achievements like the college-going rate, employability skills for the business world, and school-enjoyment. She believes in cultural core values, making content relevant for students, helping them see beyond their assumed potential, and supporting school professionals to work together in collaborative ways.
Heather is trained in project-based learning, crucial conversations, and dynamic professional learning communities using critical friendship. She is well-versed in STEM education and college and career readiness. She served as an evaluative panel-member for Oregon Small School Initiative in 2008 and 2009, presented principal-preparation research at the CREATE National Conference in 2014, presented on sustainability and innovative environments at state-level conferences, and is published in the ASCD Problem-Based Learning for the 21st Century Classroom video series.
Heather was the principal of the year for the Catawba County Schools district in 2013-2014. Additionally she was named to the list of Top 10 Under 40 by Hickory Young Professionals. She has a bachelor degree from Bellarmine University, a master degree in Executive Leadership degree from Gardner-Webb University and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Gardner-Webb Universtiy. On her time off, she enjoys volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, being part of outdoor events, and spending time with family.