GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- A strong sense of school pride guided Eastern Guilford High School's principal back to his alma mater. Principal Lance Sockwell returned to the school last year and now he's thrilled to call Eastern Guilford the most-improved high school in Guilford County.

Sockwell accepted the award on behalf of the school at Greensboro Chamber of Commerce's State of Our Community Luncheon this week.

The award, worth $10,000, will go toward continuing student improvement through staff professional development. Selected schools are chosen based on 10 items, including progress from the beginning to the end of the school year, end of grade testing, graduation rates, parent and community involvement and closing the achievement gap.

During Sockwell's year at Eastern Guilford; graduation rates, SAT scores and AP enrollment all skyrocketed. Highlights from the 2015-16 school year included a 87.9% graduation rate, more than a point higher than the year before. The average math and writing SAT score also took a huge leap, bouncing up 400 points from a 996 in 2014 to an average score 1291 in 2016.

"We've worked hard in a lot of categories," said Sockwell. "It’s been just kind of a steady increase. We haven’t increased many points, but we are right there almost at 90 percent for our graduation rate. We’d love to break that barrier. We’ve been in the high 80's the last couple of years but we are steadily increasing."

Sockwell says it's a team effort and credits knowing his students.

"Knowing kids have someone they can come and talk to and knowing that somebody cares about them then more than on an academic level but that someone cares for them as a person; it counts," said Sockwell.

The award is named after Hubert B. Humphrey who was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation from 1981 until he passed away in 2003. In November 2003, the trustees created the Hubert B. Humphrey Jr. School Improvement Award to honor his dedication. The foundation established a fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, which is used each year to support the cash award.