We believe that strong leadership in a school promotes excellent teaching.  Outstanding principals inspire outstanding teachers and create a positive learning environment essential to the culture of every successful school.  This year Golden Apple Foundation is pleased to recognize Mr. Kevin Finnegan of Prairie Hill Elementary School with the Eleventh Annual Puri Family Outstanding Principal Award.    



Kevin Finnegan is credited with developing leadership among his staff. He empowers them to make researched-based, data-driven visions come to life. Once the research has been demonstrated he encourages them to present their proposals to the school board with his full backing. As one nominator puts it, “He coaches before commanding.” Not only does he refuse to take credit for their proposals but his staff says he frequently shares credit for his own hard work. One fruit of this culture of appreciation is found in their well-developed, fully blended Pre-Kindergarten program that has grown over the last three years. It is setting the standard for other preschools.  


During his time at Prairie Hill he has developed a standards referenced report card that keeps staff focused on the foundational growth of students and makes grade level transitions smoother from year to year. The process of implementation showcased Mr. Finnegan’s skill at relationship building. He gained the buy-in of his staff who implemented this initiative and held parent meetings during the piloting and school-wide roll out. He even created a video tutorial to share with parents who could not attend the meetings. Such considerations have earned the trust of the wider community surrounding Prairie Hill. This has also assisted his development of Professional Learning Communities for which he changed the school schedule to double the amount of collaboration time for teachers as they focus on the growth of each individual student.


In addition to the many systemic accomplishments Mr. Finnegan has achieved he still keeps focus on the personal touches. He developed a character program that daily recognizes kids for positive attitudes and actions. He even celebrates the birthdays of each of his 400 students by inviting them to pick a book to keep from his personal collection, they then read the book together and the child signs his/her name on his chalkboard wall to commemorate the event. As one nominator said,  “Kevin recognized that students don’t care how much you know unless they realize how much you care.”

Mr. Finnegan will be recognized at the 20th Annual Excellence in Education Banquet on May 6, 2016 at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center. Reservations can be made at goldenappleofrockford.com or by calling 815-226-4180. He will receive $1,500 cash to be used in her school and $500 in Volcano Falls gift certificates to reward excellent students, all compliments of the Puri Family.  A secondary school principal will be recognized in 2017.

Congratulations Mr. Kevin Finnegan!

Golden Apple Foundation inspires, celebrates and supports educational excellence in our community.