Debra Klein, principal, Emerson Elementary School, Wheaton
Nominated by Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 Superintendent Jeff Schuler, Klein is known among her colleagues as a strong advocate for improving student learning.
Demographics at Emerson Elementary School continue to change: students speak 19 different languages; the percentage of students changing schools fluctuates from 5 percent to 14 percent; and the percent of low-income students, including some from a nearby homeless shelter, has risen to 23 percent.
Klein’s creative leadership at Emerson, which was acknowledged in 2015 with a National Blue Ribbon Schools award, urges teachers to think outside the box but to also contemplate the efficacy of their initiative and to generate best practices to share.
“Emerson is a warm and welcome place,” Schuler wrote. “The energy level, reflective nature and willingness to take risks that are apparent in the staff are a reflection of who Ms. Klein is as a leader.”