Wake County Public School System

Hall of Fame


Muriel Summers

Muriel Summers is a pioneer in education. In addition to serving as an educator and award-winning principal for 43 years, Muriel partnered with Franklin Covey to create the globally implemented Leader in Me program, integrating Covey habits and leadership development into all aspects of school and learning. As principal of A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School, Muriel created the first leadership elementary school in the nation.

For the past 43 years, Muriel Thomas Summers has served students and educators in the states on Maryland and North Carolina as a teacher, demonstration teacher, instructional resource teacher, assistant principal, and principal.  Muriel has served the Wake County Public School System since 1992. Through her association with the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals’ organization and the North Carolina Distinguished Leaders in Practice, she has taught hundreds of school administrators in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.  She holds a BA degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, masters’ degrees in early childhood education from UNC-Charlotte and school administration and leadership development from the University of Maryland.  She was awarded an honorary doctorate from California University for her contributions in education and leadership development and co-authored the second edition of the book, The Leader In Me, which chronicles their school’s transformational journey.  There are currently 6000 schools around the world that are emulating what she and the Combs’ staff created.

During her tenure at A.B. Combs, Muriel and the staff have earned numerous awards for their school, including the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the Number One National Magnet School in America in 2006 and again in 2014, (the only school in the nation to be recognized twice), the National School of Character Award, the National Title 1 Distinguished School, the National Elementary School of the Year, and the North Carolina Governor\’s Entrepreneurial Award under Governor Hunt’s leadership.

Muriel has received numerous awards in the field of education from Teacher of the Year to Principal of the Year and was named as one of North Carolina’s Women to Watch by the News and Observer.  She has received the William B. Friday Medal of Honor, UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Education’s Distinguished Leadership Award, The Ralph Kimmel Award for service to North Carolina’s school administrators and was recently awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Roy Cooper. 

Muriel presents at international, national, state, and local educational conferences and consults with school districts nationally and internationally Following her retirement, she still plans to continue her work mentoring principals and assistant principals across the state and will represent the Franklin Covey organization as their Global Ambassador. Muriel is the proud mother of two children, Banks and Colin and is enjoying her new role as grandmother to her first grandchild, Talbot. 

Muriel Summers was inducted into the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame in 2021.

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