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