This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Seven Philadelphia School District principals were honored Thursday with the annual Lindback Award, which recognizes distinguished leadership and humanitarian contributions to school and community.
The 2019 recipients are: April Brown, Laura W. Waring Elementary School; Shakae Dupre-Campbell, Middle Years Alternative; Nimet Eren, Kensington Health Sciences Academy; Rebecca Julien, Eliza B. Kirkbride Elementary; Todd Kimmel, Horatio B. Hackett Elementary; John Spencer, John F. McCloskey Elementary; and Kiana Thompson, Academy at Palumbo. The award comes with a $20,000 stipend to improve the school community.
“These award-winning principals go above and beyond to make sure our students are supported,” said Superintendent William Hite. “Their vision and dedication to our school communities have shaped them into outstanding school leaders who truly deserve this honor. We are grateful for their hard work, and we are proud to celebrate their successes.”
Hite, Mayor Kenney, Board of Education member Leticia Egea-Hinton, and Sheldon M. Bonovitz, Lindback Foundation trustee, spoke at a ceremony at the Philadelphia Film Center. Several District students also gave remarks, and students from Franklin Learning Center performed under the direction of teacher Michelle Frank.
Principals submitted plans for the $20,000 stipend with their applications. Some of the projects are: the creation of a stationary science lab; the expansion of music and theater programming; the transformation of rooftop space to include a garden; modernized furniture for advisory periods; the creation of a green schoolyard; additional cafeteria seating; and the transformation of an instructional media center into a makerspace to support STEM learning.
The following biographies are taken from the nomination letters.
April Brown is a Philadelphia native, having attended Spring Garden Elementary School, Stoddart-Fleisher Middle School and Bodine High School for International Affairs. She has served as principal at Laura W. Waring Elementary School since October 2016 and has been employed by the District since 2001. Before becoming a principal, she served at several schools in various positions, including literacy intern teacher, K-8 teacher, instructional support teacher lead, and assistant principal. Under her leadership, teaching and learning outcomes as measured by instructional metrics such as the PSSA and the District’s School Progress Report (SPR) have improved. Brown will begin her dissertation as a student of Neumann University in fall 2020 with a Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility.
Shakae Dupre-Campbell has served as principal of Middle Years Alternative (MYA) since 2014. A proud product of Philadelphia’s public schools, Dupre-Campbell graduated from Central High School. After university, she taught high school English for six years, worked as a teacher leader, and served as a principal intern at William L. Sayre High School. She served as a writer on the District’s English curriculum team to assist in the development of new standards-based core curriculum. Under her leadership, MYA’s overall SPR has grown from 32 percent to 71 percent in three years. Dupre-Campbell is completing her second year in the prestigious Neubauer Fellowship.
Nimet Eren has been the principal of Kensington Health Sciences Academy since 2017, after coming to the school as assistant principal the year before. After graduation from college in 2007, she became an English teacher through Teach for America and was placed at Olney East High School. When the school reopened as a charter school, Eren was part of the school-wide turnaround as both an instructional coach and English Department chair, while never fully leaving the classroom. She earned her principal certification in 2015 and began her education doctoral degree.
Rebecca Julien has served as principal of Eliza B. Kirkbride Elementary School for four years. As an educator for 15 years exclusively in Philadelphia classrooms, Julien served as a high school Spanish teacher, instructional coach for Teach for America, and PhillyPLUS Principal Fellow before becoming principal at Kirkbride. Kirkbride was named a “Peer Leader” for the 2016-17 school year for the third year in a row on the District’s School Progress Report. Kirkbride has been consistently recognized for its “model” climate on the SPR; 95 percent of its students attend school 95 percent of the time or more, significantly outpacing District averages. Julien was selected as a Neubauer Fellow in educational leadership in 2018.
Todd Kimmel is a proud product of the District, having attended Farrell School and graduated from Northeast High School. After serving five years in the U.S. Navy, he returned home, studying and working full-time as a behavioral counselor at a children’s residential treatment facility, which inspired him to become a teacher. During Kimmel’s time with the District, he has served as a grade school teacher and has also taught special education. He arrived at Hackett Elementary School five years ago, serving his first year as a principal fellow, and he officially became principal four years ago. He holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and is also a resident with PhillyPLUS.
John Spencer is a lifelong Philadelphian who has provided 24 years of service to the District as a principal, director and science teacher. He currently serves as principal of John F. McCloskey Elementary School. His first love was always science, and he went on to earn a master of science degree in instruction from Drexel University and a master’s of education degree in educational leadership from Lehigh University. His research interests include asynchronous/synchronous distance-learning environments, rigor/relevance of instructional programs, and lesson planning. Currently, he is writing his dissertation for a doctorate in organizational and educational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kiana Thompson is a product of the District and has served District students for the last 20 years. She has been principal of Academy at Palumbo High School for the last five years. Under her leadership. Palumbo has been named “Peer Leader” on the SPR each year since 2015. The number of high-quality seats at Palumbo has increased by more than 300 since Thompson arrived at the school. She serves on the Principal’s Facilities Advisory Board and the Principal Selection Committee.
The awards are given by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, which emphasizes education and programs helping “distressed individuals” in its charitable giving. It has been recognizing outstanding faculty members at colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1961.