Principal Award Recipients
2018 Outstanding Principal
Mrs. Amber Miller, Maud Johnson Elementary
Associate of Arts in Education from Rock Valley College
BA in Elementary Education and Teaching from Rockford College
MA in Teaching and Leadership from Saint Xavier University
Amber Miller taught in RPS205 schools from 2005-2012, when she became principal at Johnson. She has said, “If I could just have more hands/help/time, I could make a larger impact with students.” Partnering with Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Principal Miller formed a group of volunteer tutors doing just that. Nominator Randy Larson credits her for increasing the positive role models for Johnson students as she develops a positive school environment and positive lives. The group, which started with eight tutors in 2013, now includes local firefighters, Alpine Kiwanis and Allen Chapel AME members. And volunteers go beyond tutoring: they share the church gym; donate school supplies and warm clothing; help with school projects; and attend programs and celebrations. Larson says, “It is a joy to dream with Amber and the staff,” as the partnership supporting the Johnson School Family continues to grow.
Teachers often seek grant funding for classroom needs. As a former teacher and an involved principal, Amber gets it. She has been known to apply for those grants herself. Music teacher Mary Shore said, “Amber has a big heart, a broad smile and an infectious laugh, which creates a positive school culture.” She shared how active Amber is with the school morning to night: directing traffic and greeting students daily; putting on running shoes to go outside with students at lunchtime; accepting challenges to do handstands or push-ups when students meet goals; meeting students, teachers and district committees; and cheering on students in music programs or athletic events at night. By demonstrating her “commitment to the profession, her leadership and her involvement, Amber challenges and motivate us to create a family atmosphere at Johnson School,” Mary said. Emily Tropp, Project Coordinator for Athletics and Fine Arts with RPS District 205, added that Amber always supports district events such as the 2.05 Run and is one of the first principals she contacts when she needs help or has a question.
2012 Outstanding Principal
Mrs. LuAnn Widergren, Principal, Brookview Elementary School
“Mrs. Widergren leads by example!” Setting high expectations and standards for her staff and students, Brookview students’ ISAT performance has improved markedly over the past several years. Brookview is the second highest scoring Rockford Public Elementary School; second to the gifted program. LuAnn demonstrates strength in leadership, and inspires her staff to continue their professional growth. For LuAnn Widergren, there are no such things as mistakes, only lessons learned.
During LuAnn’s tenure at Brookview, two teachers have earned Golden Apple Awards. A former artist, Art teacher, and Art/PE Curriculum coordinator for RPS 205, LuAnn has brought an aesthetic flare to her role as principal. She leads with a vibrancy that is emulated when you walk in the doors of Brookview. The appearance of the school was given a makeover, and a friendly, welcoming environment was created. As new employees enter the staff, LuAnn pairs them with an experienced colleague to create a “family” atmosphere amongst her staff.
LuAnn has established a working environment that is second to none. The annual Teacher Appreciation Day is extended to a week long celebration. This includes LuAnn taking a teacher’s class while they are treated to a complimentary back massage by a skilled therapist brought in for the day. LuAnn also recognizes each student as individuals. She often personally tutors struggling students. “Her eyes and ears are always open and they are a direct line to her heart”, says a parent.