Tuesday May 12, 2020

Melinda Elms & Greg Frederick Named Outstanding OKCPS Principals

Two local principals have been recognized as exemplary educators in Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS). Hawthorne Elementary Principal Melinda Elms and U.S. Grant High School Principal Greg Frederick are the 2020 recipients of the Sam and Charolet Shirley Outstanding Principal award, which is distributed annually by the Foundation for OKCPS.

Each recipient received a cash prize plus $1,000 for their school to use toward Partners in Action projects.

Principal Elms has taught in OKCPS for more than 12 years. After becoming principal of Hawthorne Elementary in 2016 and reviewing school testing data, she coordinated with teachers to implement a plan to improve math and English Language Arts (ELA) test scores. Within just a year, academic performance improved under her direction.

“I am incredibly grateful to the teachers, staff and community members who nominated me for this award,” Elms said. “Hawthorne students’ increased confidence and understanding is reward enough, but it is a true honor to be recognized by my peers. Our hard work is paying off.”

Principal Frederick has been part of the OKCPS family for over six years. He is known for developing innovative ways to engage with students, removing barriers to a quality education and encouraging young people to be politically and socially aware — U.S. Grant hosted former presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke this year and scheduled U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn to speak at the school’s commencement address.

Though COVID-19 has altered the educational environment, Principal Frederick has worked hard to maintain daily communication with students and faculty while leading by example.

“My greatest joy during this crisis has been working at the educational packet and meal distribution sites. Seeing the appreciation of what our district is doing for kids from the students and their families really keeps me going,” he said. “I share this award with everyone at U.S. Grant and consider it to be a true testament to our culture and values.”

Principals Elms and Frederick are the 5th and 6th recipients of the Sam and Charolet Shirley Outstanding Principal award, which was established in 2018 by their daughter, Natalie Shirley, as a way to honor her parents. Shirley, President/CEO at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, has deep ties to education, having previously served as president of Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) and the Secretary of Education and Workforce under Gov. Mary Fallin.

“The district is full of amazing educators who give their all for their students, but Melinda Elms and Greg Frederick certainly stand out,” Shirley said. “Their commitment to their schools, especially during this unprecedented moment in history, is worth applauding. Congratulations to them both on this well-deserved award.”

Foundation President & CEO Mary Mélon said Principals Elms and Frederick are shining lights during this dark time.

“Honoring outstanding educators is one of The Foundation’s highest privileges,” Mélon said. “In a period in which academic instruction has been dramatically interrupted, it’s such a comfort knowing our students continue to be well-served by leaders like Melinda and Greg. Their dedication to students and commitment to community involvement is truly admirable.”

OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel said Principals Elms and Frederick share the belief that one of the most important building blocks for student success is that educators love their kids.

“Melinda has found unique ways to push her kids toward success. Hawthorne students are well-known and well-respected across the district for their reading prowess, as they routinely capture the top spot in the OKCPS Foundation’s ReadOKC reading challenge. Melinda inspires her students and teachers to be the very best they can be, and there is no doubt that she genuinely loves her students,” Dr. McDaniel said.

“Greg too has a remarkable connection with his students. His unwavering belief in his kids and in their future success is evident each time I walk into U.S. Grant High School, and he has been very thoughtful about creating pathways for success for each of them. Greg and Melinda are exemplary school leaders, and I am absolutely thrilled they are this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Principal recognition,” he said. “Thanks, too, to the Shirley Family for understanding the importance of recognizing our outstanding principals!”

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