2020 Elementary Principal of the Year Janna Cochrane 


Janna Cochrane of North Greenville Elementary School (NGS), has been named the 2020 Wisconsin Elementary School Principal of the Year. From the start, Cochrane and her team set out to create a safe, positive and collaborative environment that challenged all students, made possible through including staff members in key decision making. Hiring is conducted around the concept of aligning a shared vision and maintaining the excellent school culture.


These efforts have led to notable student achievement, including steady progress on closing achievement gaps. The school has worked to strengthen its support systems while improving Response to Intervention structures to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all learners.


“We are very pleased to provide Ms. Cochrane with our Elementary Principal of the Year award, as she has demonstrated an incredible ability to create an environment in which her staff truly buy in to the mission and vision of her school,” said Jim Lynch, executive director of AWSA. “Opening a new school with an all-new staff is never easy, but her approach provides a great example of how it should be done. More importantly, this approach has led to impressive improvements in student achievement and the closing of achievement gaps at North Greenville Elementary.”


Cochrane has served as principal of NGES for the past six years. Before that, she was the principal of two other elementary schools in Hortonville and Oshkosh, as well as an assistant principal in the New London School District. She began her career as a fourth-grade teacher in the Wausau Area School District. In 2009, she received Wisconsin State Reading Association’s Outstanding Administrator Award.


“Mrs. Cochrane is a learner. She is always reading to better assist her staff, parents and students,” said Todd Timm, district administrator for the Hortonville Area School District. “Her commitment to academic excellence while putting kids at the center of decision making is reflective in the North Greenville Elementary School mantra of ‘Kids. First. Always.’” 

2020 Secondary Principal of the Year Eitan Benzaquen

Eitan Benzaquen of Hillcrest School in Kenosha has been named the 2020 Wisconsin Secondary School Principal of the Year.

Benzaquen has served as Hillcrest School’s principal for the past six years. The school serves 75-120 of some of the Kenosha Unified School District’s neediest students, including those who have had issues with violence, drug abuse, bullying, trauma and mental illness. Working with students, staff and families, Benzaquen has led the way in changing mindsets and practices to create a supportive environment in which students feel safe and problems get solved.

Some of the successful practices implemented at Hillcrest include an after-school homework club, a modified course curriculum, counselor and intervention specialist support, family fun nights, case management services, weekly progress reports and aggression replacement therapy. Efforts like these have transformed Hillcrest from a formerly toxic environment into one in which students can truly learn and thrive.

“Eitan Benzaquen is a humble leader who credits staff, students, families and supporters for the success of his school because he believes in the power of a family environment,” said Dr. Sue Savaglio-Jarvis, superintendent of the Kenosha Unified School District. “He models collaboration for his staff and students, and they emulate his style in return. He is an amazing individual who goes above and beyond to ensure that his school community is valued and appreciated. Together, they achieve great things, one day at a time.”

Before becoming principal of Hillcrest, Benzaquen was an associate principal at Stoughton High School and a teacher and fill-in principal at Milwaukee’s Riverside High School. He started his career as a special education teacher in 2001. He was previously nominated for the Wisconsin Associate Principal of the Year award in 2013.

“Mr. Benzaquen exemplifies what it means to serve as a dedicated school leader who takes on all challenges using a creative and multifaceted approach,” said Jim Lynch, executive director of AWSA. “At Hillcrest School, he has brought students, educators, and families together in support of shared goals to challenge the status quo and provide a more positive, healthier learning environment for students who need it most. We are very pleased to announce Mr. Benzaquen as our 2020 Principal of the Year, an award that is truly well deserved.”