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updated: 3/19/2014 12:48 PM

Gurnee educator named Assistant Principal of the Year

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  • Sheryl P. Gray, assistant principal at Prairie Trail School in Gurnee.

    Sheryl P. Gray, assistant principal at Prairie Trail School in Gurnee.
    Courtesy of Gurnee School District 56

Gurnee School District 56 submission

Horace Mann and the Illinois Principals Association announced that Sheryl P. Gray, assistant principal of Prairie Trail School in Wadsworth, has been named 2014-15 Assistant Principal of the Year.

The award recognizes assistant principals who have demonstrated a positive impact on their students and learning community. Criteria for the award include:

• demonstrates positive impact on education and advocacy for children;

• ensures the school climate is positive and reflects high staff and student morale;

• demonstrates creativity and imagination in bringing about positive change;

• willing to take risks to improve student learning;

• moves actively to implement the goals and objectives of the school;

• works collaboratively with teachers and other staff to improve the educational program and student achievement;

• anticipates emerging problems and acts effectively to resolve them;

• involves the community in the life of the school and uses community resources for students.

Since becoming assistant principal at Prairie Trail School, Gray has implemented fresh ideas and initiatives. She helped to improve the special education program, as well as the RTI program for her school and the district.

Focusing on school attendance, she has worked with families to help them stay in the district by arranging housing, food and support for the child and the family.

"I believe it is the whole family, not just the student, that we as a school should reach out to," Gray said.

With this in mind, she began PALS (Partnership and Achievement Lead to Success). The goal of this program includes motivating, educating and empowering at risk children to discover their purpose and potential.

Encouraging and assisting parents with educating, developing and focusing their child to achieve success is another important objective.

Gray is married to her best friend for 28 years, James, and her two children, James and Jamie, who are both D56 graduates, are doing very well in their careers.

"Assistant principals are educational leaders who serve students and their communities in so many capacities. Sheryl P. Gray is to be commended for her compassion, leadership and efforts to do what is best for her students," said Jason Leahy, IPA executive director.

The Assistant Principal of the Year winner was selected from a pool of region nominees provided by the 21 Regions of the Illinois Principals Association. Sheryl will be recognized at the IPA's annual Assistant Principals Conference in 2015 and will receive a $1,000 honorarium.

Horace Mann, the largest national multiline insurance company focusing on educators' financial needs, provides auto and homeowners insurance, retirement annuities, life insurance and other financial solutions. "Founded by Educators for Educators" in 1945, the company is headquartered in Springfield. Visit for more information.

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization that serves more than 4,500 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois. You can find out more about the IPA at