Tonganoxie junior high principal receives honors
Steve Woolf, Tonganoxie Junior High School principal, recently learned he had been named as secondary school principal of the year in this area of Kansas.
Woolf, a school administrator for 13 years, has received numerous honors in school administration. In 1994, he was named Kansas middle school principal of the year. At that time, he was principal of Kepley Middle School in Ulysses. One year later, when Woolf was working as a middle school principal in Ottawa, he received the Milken National Educator Award, complete with its $25,000 prize. In 1999, just before coming to Tonganoxie, the Colorado Springs middle school where he worked was selected as a top mid-level school by the Colorado Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.
Woolf was humble when talking about this year's honor.
"It wasn't like I was named principal of the year for the state," Woolf said.
Gene Haydock, executive director for Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals, said Woolf was selected by others in the education.
"This is a peer nomination," Haydock said. "Its nominations come from peers and the vote is by a peer committee, so we feel very proud of that."
Nominations, Haydock said, relate to school leadership, school improvements, "and the overall perspective that people all over the state have of an administrator's school."
Haydock said he has been impressed with Woolf's work.
"He's very involved with school improvement in the state," Haydock said. "He has a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of go-getter attitude."
Woolf said that in 1999, when he arrived in Tonganoxie, one of his goals was to increase the number of honor roll students.
So he established the Pride program, which rewards students for academic work as well as for good behavior. Woolf said he believes this has helped.
"About 48 percent of our kids were on the honor roll before we had the program," Woolf said. "Last quarter, we had about 75 percent of our eighth-graders on it, almost 70 percent of our seventh-graders and over 60 percent of ninth-graders on the honor roll."
Overall, that's better than he had hoped for.
"I used to dream of having 60 percent someday," Woolf said. "That means if you're a 3.0 student, you're in the bottom half of your class, which is a neat problem to have."
Tonganoxie school Superintendent Richard Erickson termed Woolf's work in Tonganoxie as "outstanding."
"It says an awful lot about him and his work -- the fact that this is the second time that he's been awarded this honor as middle school principal of the year -- that's quite an honor in itself."
Like Woolf, Erickson attributed part of Woolf's success to the Pride program.
"I just think the Pride program and the Night of Stars program that he has implemented at TJHS has provided a great deal of incentive for students to do their very best academically and socially," Erickson said.
And, Erickson said, it's likely Woolf's personality also has something to do with it.
"He's just a positive person," Erickson said. "He's an enjoyable person to be around and work with, and he's a good role model for kids."