FRUITLAND, Md.- Liza Hastings, principal of Bennett Middle School, was named 2017 Middle School Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals.
A statewide panel of school administrators chose her out of more than 40 nominees.
MASSP Executive Director Scott Pfeifer surprised Hastings during her morning announcements on the school's live TV broadcast.
"It is clear from Mrs. Hastings' application that she is an excellent principal who has gained the respect of students, parents, and teachers in this community," Pfeifer said.
It was a big surprise for Hastings, but her teachers and students said they are not surprised she won.
"My favorite thing is her open door policy," said eighth grade teacher Jessica Gun. "She's always willing to talk and discuss things, decisions she's made to put us at ease and so that we can understand why she chose those things."
"I think she does a great job making herself known to the students," explained Hunter Patton, another eighth grade teacher. "She's nothing but caring and kind to them when she sees them and she's on the announcements every day."
"She's just so nice and so energetic, and she's involved in everything, she even breaks down, like dance breaks down," laughed eight grader Zahra Siddiqui.
Hasting said she hopes her influence just helps her students.
"What I want for all of my students is to know that they can be anything that they want to be," she said. "I want them to leave Bennett Middle knowing that I believe in them and that the other adults in this building believe in them."