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McElligott Receives Holly Jack Award

A 32-year board secretary from Marquardt SD 15 in Glendale Heights was named as the 2010 recipient of the Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award during the opening ceremonies for board secretary's professional development program at the IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference.

Mary Ellen McElligott credited the IASB administrative assistant for whom the award was named for getting her involved in professional development.

"We're facing tough economic times," McElligott said as she accepted her award, "but it can't hurt to educate ourselves for our bosses and our future."

Judges selected McElligott from among 22 board secretaries who were nominated. Selection criteria are performance, initiative, innovation, staff development, self-improvement, passion for public education and dedication.

This was the second year that a board secretary has been recognized with the award; the 2009 recipient was Janet Miller of Mt. Vernon SD 80.

Michael D. Johnson, IASB's executive director emeritus, credited Jack with initiating the idea of providing professional development for board secretaries. "It began with a partial day, grew to a full day and now to this conference that grows every year." In fact, he added, secretaries were the only group to show an increase in attendance this year, 142 in 2010, up from 126 in 2009.

"I respect what you do," Johnson said. "In my 20 years as a superintendent, I always marveled at what the secretary could do and how you deal with people."

McElligott said that five days after beginning her job in Marquardt, the district had a teacher's strike. But despite the tumultuous beginning, "I can honestly say that I've loved every day of it … well maybe not every day," she added.

Among her accomplishments, McElligott has organized a network of seven elementary districts so that their secretaries meet four times a year and also share information and ideas through a listserv, has presented panel sessions for both IASB and the National School Boards Association, and encouraged her district to go to paperless board meetings in 2003, well ahead of many districts.

She was also the recipient of an Illinois State Board of Education "Those Who Excel" award in 1992.

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