Apr 25, 2022 - News

Top principal wins $20,000 for Philadelphia's Northeast High School

Omar Crowder

Omar Crowder. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia School District

Omar Crowder was recently named one of the top principals in the Philadelphia School District.

Driving the news: Crowder, who leads Northeast High School, was chosen as one of seven winners of the district's 2022 Lindback Award for Distinguished Principals last week.

  • Crowder and the other award winners, who were nominated by community members and chosen based on their contributions, will each receive $20,000 to spend on their schools.

Zoom in: For the past four years, Crowder has overseen Northeast High's 3,300-member student body, where teenagers hail from more than 60 countries and speak dozens of different languages.

  • Before that, the native of Toppenish, Washington, served as assistant principal at the school for two years.
  • "My school is the size of a small city and there's lots of moving parts," he said. "There is never, ever a dull moment and I'm kept on my toes all day long."

Flashback: Crowder previously taught social studies for around 12 years, primarily in Seattle, Washington.

  • Crowder landed in Philly to take part in a district program for aspiring school administrators.

Axios asked Crowder a series of question about the award and his work in the district.

Q: What's the secret to your success?

A: Elevating and empowering teachers to have a voice and to have an opportunity to contribute to our school's success.

  • Our school is so large that I can't do this job alone. I have 185 teachers, around 90 support staff, and seven assistant principals.

Q: Why do you love about being a principal in Philly?

A: I work with the best kids and staff in the city of Philadelphia. I truly believe it and I get to live it every single day.

  • We're able to change the life trajectories of thousands of students every year. It’s just an incredible feeling.

Q: What is your leadership style?

A: I believe in distributive leadership and empowering people. And it's about service.

  • Education is the game changer for kids. I work in the service of our kids and staff, so that means eliminating barriers, finding resources, and more to support our school's mission.

Q: How do you intend to spend the money from the award?

A: Create an outdoor environmental science lab at the school that also will expand access for special needs students.

  • The space is expected to have raised garden beds, hydroponic growing systems and more for students to have a hands-on learning experience.

Q: Top advice for students?

A: Take advantage of opportunities and always be ready for whatever opportunity presents itself.

  • Make good choices. Have a plan. If people are offering you help, accept it — and don't be afraid of asking for help.
  • Life has dealt you some cards, but you're not defined by your past.

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