Principal Award Recipients
2014 Outstanding Principal
Dr. Pamela Nichols, Principal, White Swan Elementary
2013 Outstanding Principal
Mr. Don Rundall, Principal, Jefferson High School
“By actively engaging in school-wide planning, implementing initiatives, tackling problems, pursuing resources and rallying community support, Don Rundall has demonstrated excellence as a school leader,” said a nominator.
A variety of programs to improve student academic achievement and foster personal development are supported by Don, including the 21st Century tutoring program, ACT Victory Prep, Extended Learning Opportunities, Freshman Boot Camp, the School Improvement Team and others. Recognizing the leadership opportunities Don had created among his faculty, Jefferson was selected as an academies pilot site by Alignment Rockford HS Pathways in 2011. Sports and extra curricular activities round out student development, “with Mr. Rundall usually the first to arrive and the last to leave.”
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.
2011 Outstanding Principal
Mr. Matt Vosberg, Principal, South Beloit High School
Mr. Matt Vosberg’s leadership as Principal of South Beloit H.S. has earned the school the title of “Honor Roll School” in 2008-one of only 14 recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education. And, in 2010, South Beloit H.S. was named one of “America’s Best High Schools” by U.S. News and World Report. Matt’s nominators give his very intentional leadership much of the credit for the school’s success. Matt is described as a quiet, reserved man who leads with great respect, realism and pragmatism. He has demonstrated a commitment to positive student achievement by instituting AP classes that didn’t even exist in the school 5 years prior. He’s implemented lunch and after school tutoring and peer mentoring programs for students. He is described as having great respect for and trust in the expertise of the South Beloit H.S. teachers. “Mr. Vosberg has changed the culture of the school” said Nancy Konowal, a teacher at South Beloit H.S. “Teacher morale is at it highest and teacher turnover, once a problem, is non-existent”. Matt Vosberg believes that “Good morale is due to good leadership.” Clearly he deserves the honor of being recognized as the 2011 Outstanding Principal!
Susan Haney Bauer
2010 Outstanding Principal
Susan Haney-Bauer, Principal, Maria Montessori School-Rockford
B. Special Education-Univ. of Wisconsin-Whitewater
M.S. Early Childhood Education-Univ. of Wisconsin-Whitewater/Madison
Mrs. Haney-Bauer was described by her nominators as an exceptional asset to the school, the district and most importantly, every child’s life she has touched. In her thirty years in the Rockford Public School District she founded Rockford’s Early Childhood Special Education programs, led the Parent Information Center as director and developed the Local Interagency Council in order to improve collaboration between community agencies.
Mrs. Haney-Bauer has consistently demonstrated a tremendous commitment to positive student achievement and works tirelessly to ensure that all students achieve their maximum potential. She is never satisfied with the status quo and has been described as the best example of a learning leader. She has the energy and ability to inspire and empower the teachers at Maria Montessori and challenges them to continue to develop as professionals. Mrs. Haney-Bauer’s personality, commitment and leadership set the positive tone within the school. She has the “golden touch” that creates a school where the waiting list gets longer each year to enroll.
Congratulations Mrs. Haney-Bauer and Maria Montessori School!!
2009 Outstanding Principal
Mr. Thomas Hoffman, Principal, Pecatonica High School
B.S. Physical Education, Western Illinois University
M.S Educational Administration, Northern Illinois University
36 Years in Education-12 Years as a Principal
Tom Hoffman has been described as a positive leader and a considerate, fair, compassionate, yet tough administrator. It is not uncommon to see him in the halls during and after school, shaking hands of students and providing encouragement to those who need it. His honest and sincere desire to see students succeed has resulted in him earning their respect. He creates a positive learning environment and sets high expectations for student achievement. He encourages ongoing professional growth and leadership development among teachers and spends quality time in evaluating performance so that everyone has the ability to improve. Pecatonica Superintendent, Bill Faller says "Tom Hoffman has influenced the lives of many students who never forget the principal who looked out for them."
2008 Outstanding Principal
Mr. Michael Francis, Principal, Jackson Elementary
A.A. | Rock Valley College
B.A. | Carthage College
Masters in Educational Administration | Western Illinois University
37 years in Education-15 years as a Principal
If you're trying to find Jackson Elementary School Principal Michael Francis, don’t bother with his office. Look instead on the playground or in the halls. Look where the children are. Francis leads his Jackson "family" by knowing his students' names, by being visible and available. He also supports his teachers, providing materials and clearing roadblocks "so teachers can teach and students can learn," says teacher Pam Herriott.
This approach has helped the lifelong Rockfordian (a 1968 East High graduate) remove Jackson School from No Child Left Behind "status" lists. The school has seen a 24 percent increase in economically disadvantaged students in the past eight years, with only one-third meeting state standards in 2001. But Jackson brought in consultants to help teachers and worked to turn scores around. In 2007, 60 percent of Jackson students met standards.
His philosophy of education? "Teamwork in a school is essential," he says. "Treat all persons, including students, with respect." One only needs to step foot inside the 100 year old halls of Jackson school to feel that it is a safe, nurturing, welcoming, learning environment led by an outstanding principal!
2007 Outstanding Principal
Mrs. Judy Rigby, Principal, Hononegah High School
B.S. in Education | Illinois State University
M.S. in Counselor Education |Northern Illinois University
General Administrative Endorsement
35 years in Education-5 years as a Principal
Judy Rigby was chosen to receive this award for her excellence in leadership, commitment to student achievement, demonstration of loyalty and dedication to staff and improving her chosen profession of school leadership in public education. Mrs. Rigby is greatly admired by teachers as well as fellow administrators at Hononegah. As stated by one of her nominators, "Her unwavering determination to continue to improve in all areas of education has created an atmosphere of constant professional growth and a positive learning climate."
Mrs. Rigby has been described as a detail oriented leader who has the ability to connect with others through astute listening skills. She is an inspiration to all as she lives out and practices the very qualities she encourages her teachers to model. Her determination to make constant improvement is contagious as evidenced by Hononegah’s selection as one of the Chicago Sun-Times Top 50 High Schools for two years in a row.
2006 Outstanding Principal
Mr. Randy Larson, Principal, Carlson Elementary School
45 years in Education-34 years as a Principal
Mr. Larson was chosen to receive this premiere award for his long standing enthusiastic leadership and commitment to student achievement and development. Mr. Larson has created a positive learning environment and has created a sense of community at Carlson school that has embraced the rest of the community with their involvement in a number of community activities.
The minute you enter Carlson School you realize that learning is important and fun. The enthusiasm of the principal permeates the building with a frenzy of learning experiences. Mr. Larson's personal belief in the power of positive thinking and a committed work ethic has translated into an outstanding total education experience for the students at Carlson. The positive learning environment fosters achievement and student growth. Staff members work diligently not only to teach state and district learning standards, but also to make the learning meaningful and relevant to the student's lives. Not only is high student achievement expected and attained, but Mr. Larson encourages growth and professional development among his staff members. Mr. Larson has created a community at Carlson School that embraces the rest of the community. Through his leadership students have participated in "Get the Scoop" Ice Cream Social and Orientation, the Carlson Parade, Veteran's Day Celebration and even the adoption of a school in Gulf Port, Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. His dedication to education and love of this community are truly a gift to us all.