McHenry East principal named high school principal of the year

The radio call to report to the gymnasium was nothing strange for McHenry East High School Principal Jeff Prickett.

But when he walked in and saw his family, he knew something was up.

In a socially distanced surprise announcement on Thursday, Prickett was overjoyed to learn he'd been named high school principal of the year for 2021 by the Illinois Principals Association.

Prickett, principal at the school since 2017, was especially honored because of the challenges presented during the last year by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of his initiatives was a pair of podcasts to help the community stay connected to the school during remote and hybrid learning.

"It's quite an honor," he said. "We've all been thrown into such tumultuous times. We've really had to rethink what it means to be principals when so much of what we do revolves around being with people all day long."

Prickett has been a principal for a total of 18 years including time in Crystal Lake and Round Lake. Next school year McHenry's east and west campuses will merge to form one high school, with freshmen attending at the east campus. Prickett will become the principal for both sites.

Prickett, who will be honored at the IPA's Education Leaders annual conference in October, is looking forward to a strong finish to the school year with students returning to full in-person learning on April 5 after spring break.

"One of the things we've missed the most is that connection with the students, the teachers, the staff," he said. "People have been looking for those silver linings all year, and this is another sign that there's hope in our near future."

McHenry East High School Principal Jeff Prickett has been named the Illinois Principals Association high-school principal of the year. Courtesy of McHenry East High School
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