Elaine Nicholson of Meridian CUSD 223 named 2021 Holly Jack Award winner
Date PostedNovember 8, 2021
A committee of previous Holly Jack Award winners, Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials past presidents, and retired administrative professionals selected Nicholson for the honor. The judges considered the criteria of performance, initiative, innovation, staff development, self-improvement, passion for public education, and dedication to the district and community.
Nominations were made by district superintendents and school board presidents. Letters of support from District 223 board members, teachers, a principal, and the current superintendent described Nicholson as a “reliable, trusted, and incredible leader.” She was referred to as “a problem solver who empowers her colleagues to achieve their goals.”
“When I reflect and think about Elaine, the core values of the district mission and vision come to mind; integrity, innovation, and excellence. Mrs. Nicholson demonstrates all of these values,” said Jill Huber, vice president of the Meridian CUSD 223 school board. “She has a passion for people, and a need to help improve the quality of life for those around her.”
Board President John Smith III echoed Huber’s comments, writing, “She has served to change the climate of the district office internally, bringing trust back to the position, and assuming leadership roles we had never imagined eight years ago. Moreover, she has done so with grace, empathy, and compassion.” Smith continued, “Elaine is an incredible asset to our district. She has brought a sense of teamwork and collaboration to every element of the district office and to the district at large.”
Superintendent PJ Caposey and Nicholson began work in the Meridian district office at the same time. Describing Nicholson as “the perfect yin to my yang,” Caposey said, “She established an office environment that is professional, productive, and inviting. Most importantly, I trust her implicitly.”
When speaking of Nicholson’s initiative at CUSD 223, Caposey outlined the numerous new responsibilities that now fall under the position of coordinator to the board of education and superintendent. “When it became apparent that her leadership skills were blossoming, the district created a position to leverage her immense talents. Elaine’s job description has more than tripled in key responsibilities since she assumed this position. She is in charge of policy updates, coding accounts payable, and multiple facets of the registration process. She is also now responsible for onboarding, reviewing, and creating standard operating procedures for all secretaries in the district.”
Elaine Nicholson is a Meridian 223 graduate and a long-time community resident. Nicholson has been employed at the district for nearly a decade, beginning her tenure as the secretary of the counseling department at Stillman Valley High School. After a year, she transitioned to the district office.
The Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award is named in memory of long-time Illinois Association of School Boards employee, Holly Jack, who served as an IASB field services administrative assistant and was instrumental in promoting and developing professional development programs for board secretaries. The award recognizes the dedication to service and extraordinary work contributions of administrative professionals who serve and assist their local boards of education.