Windsor Elementary, Loves Park
B.A. Science Northern Illinois University
M.A. Science Northern Illinois University
Melissa Yuska was hired as principal on June 24, 2019. She previously served as the assistant principal at Windsor and Olson Park Elementary Schools. Before that, she was a supervisor of special education in the Rockford School District.
Three teachers who nominated her for this award reported that Yuska makes them feel like valued members of a community when she greets and thanks everyone personally every morning. She asks what they need to “be the best educators we can be.” Then she works with professional development specialists and makes sure professional development is designed to meet the needs. That goes for all staff, not just teachers. “She has worked with district bus drivers to provide training on helping some of our neediest students. She makes it clear that every person who works with our students is important, and, as such, they deserve the support and direction to further their skills.”
Another teacher wrote about Yuska’s commitment to student achievement and the development of the whole child. “She frequently shares with us, as a staff, that without the relationships with our students, we will not see their achievement and success.” Her relationship building skills are solid. Students see her throughout the school every day: in the hallways, lunchroom, playgrounds and classrooms. She knows their names. And when they see her, they smile and ask for hugs, high fives and fist bumps. This does not mean she doesn’t hold them to high achievement standards, though! In a nomination letter, we learned that Yuska “wants our lowest performing students to make as much progress as possible and she wants the higher performing students to be pushed to learn even more.”
Speech-Language Pathologist Angela Carson calls Yuska “firm, fair and fun.” She says she has a positive attitude and a strong work ethic. Carson also shared that with Yuska’s background in special education, she is a strong advocate for students who may have special needs. 28-percent of Windsor’s students have Individualized Education Plans. Those students are all making great progress in all areas and student school scores have been rising since Yuska became principal.
In support of Yuska’s nomination, other teachers wrote that “her warmth and level of understanding and empathy make her approachable by parents and staff.” “We know that she has our back and will support us to do and be our best.”