Wake County Public School System

Hall of Fame


Diane Payne

Diane began her career with the Wake County School System at Ligon High School where she taught junior and senior English. While her husband, Mike, was in law school, Diane taught English and was a guidance counselor at Chapel Hill High School. After returning to Raleigh, she was an assistant dean of Student Development at North Carolina State University, then an assistant principal at Enloe High School, and later principal of West Millbrook Junior High School. She returned to Enloe as principal when the school became a magnet school.  After eight years at Enloe, she briefly worked with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and then returned to the school system, serving as principal at Poe Elementary School for several months. After a brief stint as Special Assistant for Leadership and Development for the school system, Diane became principal of Broughton High School in 1991, a position she held until her retirement in 2005.

Following her retirement, Diane held several positions including interim principal at Leesville High School and Carroll Middle School and served as an Associate with the Leadership Group of the Carolinas. Most recently, she was the Director of the Principal Fellows Program, a program for teachers who wish to pursue a career in school administration.

Diane served on several committees of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) including the High School Task Force and the National Alliance of High Schools Advisory Council. She has written articles for The High School Magazine, the NASSP Bulletin and Principal Leadership, and co-authored with Sondra Van Sant two books for educators. She was MetLife/NASSP Principal of the Year for North Carolina and recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of the School of Education of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Diane is a board member of Haiti Outreach Ministries and serves on the Education Committee. She has greatly enjoyed her involvement in planning and building a secondary school in the Port-au-Prince area. She is a deacon at White Memorial Presbyterian church and is active on several church committees. Diane is married to L.W. (Mike) Payne, who served as a Wake County District Court Judge for many years before retiring. Mike and Diane have two daughters, Sharon and Erica, who attended Wake County schools, and, like their father, are graduates of Broughton High School. Mike and Diane are blessed to have four grandchildren.

Diane Payne was inducted into the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame in 2018.