Principal Kelly named Golden Apple finalist

Alek Para, Staff Reporter

Elk Grove High School Principal Paul Kelly was named one of the six finalists for the Golden Apple award on Feb. 3.

The Golden Apple Award is “the leading Illinois nonprofit committed to preparing, honoring and supporting great educators who advance educational opportunities for students,” according to its press release.

Kelly was recognized for creating a “pervasive culture of belonging for students through empowerment and collaboration guided by a mantra of challenge, support and patience,” Golden Apple officials said in a press release.

Two years prior to being named a Golden Apple finalist in 2018, Kelly, principal at EG since 2013, was also named Illinois Principal of the Year.

He was recognized for the Golden Apple honor at the Q Center in St. Charles on Feb. 22.

Kelly said he is  humble about his Golden Apple nomination and previous Principal of the Year honors in Illinois.

“In no way do I consider myself the ‘top principal’ in Illinois,” Kelly said in an email. “I keep ending up in the right place at the right time, and that has so much to do with the incredible work of everyone at Elk Grove High School and in District 214.”

With several mobile home parks within Elk Grove’s school boundaries, Kelly and EG staff have been involved in an outreach program that offers a summer camp for K-5 children at the Oasis Mobile Home park. It has become a year-round initiative, as a fourth of Elk Grove’s students don’t have access to a library or park district.

Prior to his time at EG, Kelly worked as a division head for social science and world languages at John Hersey High School. Before his tenure at Hersey, he spent nine years as a social studies teacher at Hinsdale South High School in Darien and Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park for four years.

“I absolutely loved being a social studies teacher at Sandburg and Hinsdale South high schools,” Kelly said in an email. “I got to teach history, sociology and humanities classes with really diverse groups of students. I’m still in contact with many of them. Teaching is definitely where I formed my closest relationships with students, and I miss the opportunity to be with students every day and really get to know them.”

Kelly said he appreciated the fact that Elk Grove’s several programs, such as manufacturing, civics, dual language and education, have room to grow, and he said he’s excited to help our teachers create the best programs possible.

“I think Elk Grove is an amazing school, and it was amazing before I got here,” Kelly said. “I’ve just tried to keep it that way and to add where I can.”