Principal Award Recipients
2020 Outstanding Principal
Erin Salberg, Nashold Early Childhood Center, Rockford
B.A. Elementary Education and Teaching, Elmhurst College
M.A. Curriculum and Instruction, National Louis University
M.A. Principal Prep, Concordia University
Golden Apple Teacher award recipient 2014
Erin taught first grade in the Rockton District from 2006-2015. From 2015-2016, she was Assistant Principal of Rockford Public Schools’ Creative and Performing Arts Academy/ Gifted Academy. Since 2016, she’s led 450 Pre-K - fifth graders and teachers as principal at Rockford’s Nashold Elementary.
To Erin, supporting student growth starts with empowering and educating teachers. With that in mind, she provides professional learning community meetings, offers quality professional development opportunities; links teachers’ professional goals or interests with those of students; and encourages teachers to learn from both peers and teachers of classes their students will move on to. Erin knows the importance of family in a student’s success and that learning isn’t limited to just academics. She’s implemented many new committees, tactics and resources to help teachers teach to the whole child including Calm Down Corners; task forces (socio-emotional, literacy and numeracy); Class Dojo to communicate with families; and a period at the start of the year to familiarize students with expected behaviors. When a new tactic doesn’t work, because, sometimes they don’t, Erin accepts that. She then works with staff to find alternative ways to reach the desired results.
This hands-on principal is very visible! Erin drops in on classes to congratulate students who met a goal or just to play. When the school’s short-staffed, you’ll see Erin pitching in where needed, from loading buses to teaching classes. Her love of children is clear on “Tuck in Tuesday” videos on Nashold’s Facebook page, where she invites teachers, students and their families into her home to watch her read to her own children. Some children watch weekly, calling her “the teacher who comes on my computer to read to me”! She chooses her stories with intention, often consulting teachers to align them with academic vocabulary, concepts and goals and she greets viewers by name. This cozy activity boosts the feeling of community and family involvement while extending learning outside the classroom. Viewership averages 400 views week! She continued this practice during the Coronavirus shutdown, maintaining a sense of comfort and consistency in a time that could feel chaotic and unsettling. Erin leads by example, believes in her teachers and put the children first, always.
2019 Outstanding Principal
Eric Flohr, Hononegah Community High School, Rockton
A.S. Biology, Illinois Valley Community College
B.S. Biological Education, Illinois State University
M.S. Educational Administration and Foundations; Illinois State University
CAS, Superintendent Endorsement, Educational Administration, Eastern Illinois University
As an Eagle Scout, a high school science teacher (1988-1996) and a principal (1995-2019), Eric Flohr has always set and achieved goals. One of Flohr’s goals is for teachers to be there 100% for the students and to always provide them their best. Kelsey Zammuto got on board during her interview with him. “He gave me a sense of purpose … I didn’t want to disappoint him.” “He helped re-spark my passion for teaching.” He also instills pride in others as he models positive relationship building. His Twitter handle, @HononegahPrin demonstrates his pride as “YOUR principal” (his daily greeting).
Flohr loves to celebrate staff’s hard work and accomplishments as well as student successes – artistic, athletic and academic. He has solidified the school values of community and collaboration. Students know how Flohr roots for and values them. At games, the very visible Hononegah fan embodies school spirit in a bright purple Hononegah blazer and spirit socks, while energetically urging everyone in the student section to cheer on the team. When Margaret Moore’s son learned his team qualified for the state math competition, he couldn’t wait to tell “his principal.” She says when Flohr presents awards, he brags about the students "as if they were his kids.” She concluded that he “truly believes in what students can accomplish; this magically turns into students believing in themselves and their abilities. His positive attitude, charisma and authenticity make him a great student leader.” Abigail Trefilek says he created a “positive learning environment for students and positive working environment for all staff.”
To see Flohr’s spark yourself, search “Hononegah Principal” on youtube.com. In one video, he claps for and gives the Class of 2018 an “A” for wrapping everything, even his scissors, in tin foil. In some schools, such pranks have negative consequences, but Flohr understood this act meant the students knew he cared and that something good was going on in his school. Several videos include his take on something Golden Apple teachers, staff and volunteers were all too familiar with this year: snow days. Hear his memorable school closure message at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWoZ1QsFYKM.