Katie Matthews, principal, Grove Avenue Elementary School, Barrington
Nominated by senior leadership of Barrington Community Unit School District 220, Matthews is known as a passionate advocate for all students “through her commitment to connecting with children and families” and ensuring that “all students.”
Grove Elementary, the largest elementary school in the district with more than 550 students, is socioeconomically, racially and ethnically diverse. It also houses the dual-language Spanish immersion program, which draws from students from across the 72-square-mile district.
Embracing those differences, Matthews has created an inclusive culture that includes integrated lunch tables where students of diverse backgrounds make new connections.
She also launched an annual family reading program – One Book, One Grove – to bridge learning from school to home and back.
“The idea was that every member of the school community read the book, uniting them not only in something that everyone is able to talk about, but also with a common theme of Read, Think, Help and Change,” her nominators wrote.
“Connecting learning to the home lives of students and families through curriculum studies has been particularly laudable,” they added. “However, it is merely the beginning of the true social and cultural change that her leadership has fostered.”