Willowbrook principal named Golden Apple nominee
For his efforts to create a positive learning environment for his students and a positive workplace for his faculty and staff, Willowbrook High School Principal Daniel Krause has been named one of four finalists for the 2016 Golden Apple Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award.
"I am incredibly humbled. This is a great recognition for the school," Krause said. "The real work happens because of the amazing staff and community. It takes that for anything to be successful."
The school's Warrior Code was introduced at Willowbrook when Krause became principal in 2007 and helps reinforce a set of cultural values -- be respectful, be responsible, be engaged -- that set the tone for improved student achievement.
"It began nine years ago," he said. "It helped to bring a common understanding, a common vocabulary. It helped to redefine what it means to be a Warrior."
It's just one of the initiatives Krause has championed at the Villa Park school that makes him a finalist for the statewide educational leadership award.
"We obviously work hand-in-hand with the elementary school districts to make sure there's a smooth transition to us," Krause said. "We also have 23 Advancement Placement classes with high enrollment."
The school addresses post-high school issues with college fairs and the opportunity to earn college credit via several Willowbrook classes that are transferable to College of DuPage, he said.
"We continuously keep a focus on their life after high school. We want to be sure they'll be successful," he said.
The winner of the Leadership Award will be announced later this spring when Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching also will be announced. The award winner will receive $10,000 for professional development and a school project.
Ten Illinois teachers will be chosen for the teaching awards from a field of 30 finalists. Each winner will receive $5,000, a tuition-free quarter to study at Northwestern University and membership in the Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators.
Krause's finalist status in the Golden Apple award program has engendered pride on the part of his colleagues.
"It's exciting. It's just a reflection of what goes on," said DuPage High School District 88 Superintendent Scott Helton. "Anytime a leader is recognized, it speaks to what goes on at a number of levels."
Helton said he first met Krause when both educators worked in another district. Krause was serving as a math division chairman. Helton later hired Krause as assistant principal at Addison Trail High School. Krause subsequently became assistant principal at Willowbrook High School before becoming principal.
"He's a high-energy guy who really cares about the kids. He's done some amazing things," Helton said. "He believes in best practices."
Helton said students and faculty respond to Krause's personal attention to detail.
"He's there for all the kids. If you walk the halls, he knows the kids. He knows them by name. He knows their parents," Helton said.
Brian Chelmecki is in his second year as math department chairman at Willowbrook.
"He was one of the big things that attracted me to working at Willowbrook High School," Chelmecki said. "He really impressed me."
Chelmecki said the Warrior Code has been an effective motivational tool for students.
"They're excited to be Warriors," he said. "It gives them more drive and excitement about being at school."
Chelmecki said Krause's management style also is a plus for faculty and staff.
"From a day-to-day perspective, he believes in shared leadership," he said. "He trusts us on the leadership team."