Award recognizes outstanding leaders at OKC Public Schools

May 18, 2020

Leadership matters everywhere. It matters in the world, in our country, in our state and in our city. It matters in our school districts and at each school site.

The Sam and Charolet Shirley Outstanding Principal Awards are designed to recognize leadership with an annual award, administered by The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools. Our award winners this year exemplify both a commitment to service and high standards.

Melinda Elms has been the principal at Hawthorne Elementary School since 2016 and has been with Oklahoma City Public Schools for nearly 14 years, starting as a kindergarten teacher. She has built a culture that fosters caring, support and growth of every student.

She puts that same care into her faculty, as evidenced by her glowing recommendation letters. She has worked to transform both the outside and the inside of the school, knowing that beautification efforts build pride and confidence. She has built academic rigor, focusing on reading and literacy as the foundation.

Hawthorne Elementary School has won all but one ReadOKC Reading Challenge, highlighting Principal Elms’ belief that students who read well and frequently will perform better in every aspect of school. Her leadership has also boosted testing scores each year of her tenure. All this happens as she builds real and strong relationships with students and families.

Our secondary schools outstanding principal is Greg Frederick from U.S. Grant High School. Principal Frederick’s nomination materials describe him as an innovative leader, who stays focused on culturally relevant teaching, creating diverse professional development opportunities for his staff.

Under Frederick’s leadership, childcare services have expanded to an onsite facility for teacher, staff and students who are parents. He led efforts to develop one of the first in the state e-sports programs and has encouraged advocacy by his students through a partnership with Generation Citizen.

He is bringing in an online learning platform for all 9th graders that implements project based learning. One of his recommenders stated that Principal Frederick builds strong relationships with all students. That is no easy task at the district’s largest high school. He knows his students by name and knows their strengths and challenges.

Read Mary Mélon's original Oklahoman editorial.