|2018 IASB JOINT ANNUAL CONFERENCE|
Superintendent of the Year
Not many superintendents can match the tenure that Gary Kelly has enjoyed as chief administrator of DuQuoin Community Unit School District 300 for the past 22 years. His career was celebrated on November 18, when he was named Illinois Superintendent of the Year by the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).
“This award is about the work of people in my school district, specifically our administrators, faculty, and staff that work hard every day to provide the best for our students,” Kelly said.
Kelly also credited the students in DuQuoin and his family for any success he’s had in the district.
That statement set the tone for additional humble comments upon receiving the award presented by IASA President and At-Large Director Sheila Harrison-Williams (Hazel Crest SD 152.5). The event took place at the third General Session of the 2018 Joint Annual Conference in Chicago.
“It is about having great students in our school district,” Kelly said. “Our board of education, community, and parents have supported the vision and mission of our school district to provide the best education possible for our students. We have a school community that supports a culture for students to be successful.”
Kelly was selected from among more than 850 Illinois superintendents and he will represent Illinois in the choice for National Superintendent of the Year recognition during the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Conference in 2019. Nominees are judged on the leadership for learning, communication, professionalism, and community involvement.
Kelly, who has also served as a teacher, coach, principal, and assistant superintendent during his 33 years as an educator in District 300, said that the board also should receive credit for the award.
Board member Larry Valier responded that Kelly truly deserved the award for creating a student-centered atmosphere, where collaboration is the norm.
“Dr. Kelly is a student-focused leader who cares about our students and demonstrates that attitude at all times,” Valier said. “Our district’s motto of ‘Working Together for All Students’ is a derivative of his leadership style and determination to serve all students.”
DuQuoin District 300 is a school district of 1,500 students located in IASB’s Egyptian Division. During Kelly’s tenure with District 300, the school system has established a school-supporting foundation, passed two building referendums and two sales tax referendums for facility improvements, and implemented blended classrooms at the elementary level that place students identified as at-risk for learning concerns in rooms with a teacher and instructional aide who modify instruction to fit student needs.
Dr. Brent Clark, executive director of IASA, described Kelly as a “tenacious” leader for his students, staff, and community.
“He has never given up and has always kept fighting for improvements within his district. He is highly respected for his stewardship, knowledge, and expertise,” Clark said about Kelly. “He truly is an exceptional school leader and role model who is well deserving of this honor.”
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