East Aurora Unit District 131 superintendent presented with Leader of the Year Award

East Aurora Unit District 131 had a full month honoring and celebrating black culture, but on Feb. 24, the African American Heritage Advisory Board's dinner brought the spotlight even closer to home.

The 17th annual event took place at Belle Salle Banquets in Aurora and, among other recognitions, presented current East Aurora District 131 Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Norrell with the 2023 Leader of the Year award.

As 2023 Leader of the Year, the board has recognized Dr. Norrell's tireless work to raise the standards for educational and community-based excellence within District 131.

In the last school year alone, all school sites within the district reached Commendable status or higher on the Illinois State Report Card, while the graduation rate reached a 10-year high and the number of students taking early college courses rose by 29%.

These successes and more are attributed to Dr. Norrell's One Team, One Plan commitment to widening the opportunities for all students, at every level, to reach their fullest academic and social potential.

This same evening, a number of students were recognized as Cowherd Scholars and received college scholarships.

This scholarship is named in honor of the late Henry Cowherd who was an amazing leader in this community. This year, East Aurora High School graduate Mikayla Wilson was among those receiving a scholarship. This presentation, alongside the salute to Dr. Jennifer Norrell, offered an opportunity for students to witness the impact of investing in one's community.

Among those receiving awards were Servant George Rayford who was the Lifetime Achievement Honoree and those receiving the NIA Award were Katrina Boatright, director of Senior Services for the City of Aurora and David Smith III, president and CEO of At-Risk Mentoring. These individuals are an example to the meaning of honoring leaders that advance the Aurora community at large.

The entire District 131 staff community and board of education congratulates Dr. Norrell on an outstanding year thus far and is grateful for her passion, forward thinking, and commitment.

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