Meet the 2024 Gradient School Leaders of the Year

Meet the 2024 Gradient School Leaders of the Year

Not surprisingly, both recipients of the Gradient Learning School Leader of the Year award did their best deflecting the spotlight and shared it with their team.

“I don’t really want the attention for myself,” said Dr. Dawn Krueger, principal at Heath Middle School in Greeley, Colorado. “But this is a great opportunity for our community to see all of the great work that our team has been doing. Our teachers are phenomenal.”

“You don’t get this award without the school being awesome,” said Chris McAdoo, principal at Santa Fe South Pathways Middle College in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “It’s definitely not because of me. It’s because of my teachers and it’s because of the kids putting in the work. They deserve all the accolades.”

Krueger and McAdoo were nominated by their peers and chosen as this year’s two winners by a Gradient Learning selection committee. The award honors school leaders who support whole student outcomes that prepare students with the skills, knowledge, and habits to lead fulfilled lives long after they graduate.

Dr. Cathy Klasek, an English teacher at Pathways, nominated McAdoo for his ability “to lead with humanity and humility.”

“He’s very factual with the students and I think they appreciate that they can be emotional with him and get a calm response,” Klasek said. “He’s able to say, ‘Help me understand and let’s work through this together.’ He lets the students know that he is a person, and not just an authority figure, and that he really does care and wants what’s best for them.”

Dr. Peggy Franklin, a special education and science teacher at Heath, nominated Krueger for similar reasons.

“Dawn is very easy to talk to and has a great demeanor no matter who she is around,” Franklin said. “She can quickly calm down any situations that may come up during the day. She just gets it. She understands everyone’s role here so well.”

This is the second year of the Gradient Learning School Leader of the Year award. The award was inspired by the late Norma Penny, who embodied the characteristics of a school leader who fostered a learning environment that led to positive change. Penny, who died in 2021, left a legacy of impact after proudly serving 15 years as the founding principal at Carter Lomax Middle School in Pasadena, Texas.

Our two inspiring 2024 recipients:

Dawn Krueger

Dr. Dawn Krueger Principal Heath Middle School Greeley, Colorado “We want our students to be able to go wherever they want to go in life.”

Read Dawn's Story

Chris McAdoo

Chris McAdoo Principal Santa Fe South Pathways Middle College Oklahoma City, Oklahoma “Do what you gotta do, to get done what you need to get done, so you can do what you want to do.”

Read Chris' Story