Elk Grove H.S. principal named finalist for Golden Apple award
Elk Grove High School Principal Paul Kelly -- named Illinois High School Principal of the Year two years ago -- is one of six finalists for a prestigious Golden Apple award, officials announced Monday.
Kelly and the other nominees from K-12 schools across the state were nominated for the Chicago-based nonprofit's Excellence in Leadership award, which "honors exemplary performance in school leadership by a principal or head of school who has had a significant and sustained positive impact on the school, created a culture of inclusivity, and delivered dramatic student growth," according to the teacher-support organization.
Kelly, principal at Elk Grove since 2013, was recognized for creating a "pervasive culture of belonging" for students through empowerment and collaboration, guided by a mantra of "challenge, support, and patience," Golden Apple officials said.
Kelly received news of the Golden Apple nomination from Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Superintendent David Schuler Monday morning at the high school.
"In every way, this recognition is a product of the incomparable Elk Grove staff, students, and community I get to work with each day," Kelly said in a statement. "District 214 and Elk Grove High School inspire and expect the very best from all of us. I am just one piece of an incredible puzzle made up of quality people trying to create a better future for the next generation of Americans. I truly appreciate Golden Apple's commitment to honoring our profession."
Kelly was named Illinois Principal of the Year in 2018 by the National Association of High School Principals, which recognized his engagement in the school community and leading a professional development program for teachers.
Similarly, Golden Apple on Monday noted Kelly's outreach to students and families living in mobile home parks within the school's attendance boundaries. As a quarter of Elk Grove students live there and don't have access to a library or park district, Kelly and other school leaders started an outreach program that offers summer camps for K-5 children and has become a year-round initiative.
"Preparing students for the world of tomorrow requires school leaders who are ambitious in their vision and bold in their pursuit of excellence," said Alan Mather, president of Golden Apple and the first recipient of the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership. "Each of the 2020 finalists embodies these ideals."
Before Elk Grove, Kelly spent six years as division head for social science/world languages at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, also a District 214 school. He was a social studies teacher for five years at Hinsdale South High School and for four years at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park.
Kelly attended Chicago Public Schools and graduated from Norris City-Omaha-Enfield High School in downstate Illinois as part of a class of fewer than 60.
Finalists for Golden Apple's Excellence in Leadership and Excellence in Teaching -- for which 30 finalists were named Jan. 23 -- will be recognized during a celebration Feb. 22 at the Q Center in St. Charles.
It's the seventh year that Golden Apple will be honoring top pre-K through grade 12 principals and heads of schools.
The winner will be notified in the spring during a surprise school visit. The winner will receive $5,000, with another $5,000 going to the school.