A Letter to Chicago’s Principals: Thank You!

To our beloved principals,

October marks National Principal Appreciation Month, and to kick it off, we wanted to share our gratitude for each of you.

As former principals ourselves, we recognize your dedication and incredibly hard work. We know from experience – principals truly do it all. On top of your regular work leading and improving teaching and learning, budgeting for your school’s needs and managing a staff and school building, you also do the unnoticed (and sometimes unforgiving) tasks that just need to get done. But, you do this work with heart, and we see and feel that every time we visit one of your schools.

While measures like graduation rates, 5Essentials and academic growth are important indicators of the incredible work you do with your school teams, we know it is the thousands of immeasurable moments in a year that ultimately make a difference for your teachers and students.

It is the meal you drop off for the paraprofessional suffering the loss of a parent.

It is the hour you spend co-teaching to help develop a new teacher’s classroom management skills.

It is the extra tutoring and nurturing you provide at lunch, after school and on the weekends to the students who need you most.

It is the supplies you buy with your own money, and the grants you secure for field trips and experiential learning.

It is the love you show in so many ways, every day.

Being a principal is the hardest job we’ve ever loved, and we are extremely grateful to those of you still doing it every day.

Thank you for being the incredible leaders that you are. Our city’s public schools could not serve our students without your leadership, enthusiasm and compassion.

In appreciation,

Gail and Mahalia


Note from The Fund: Ms. Gail Ward and Dr. Mahalia Hines are both Members of the Chicago Board of Education.

Ms. Ward was a teacher and a principal at the elementary and high school levels over a distinguished 30-year career in Chicago Public Schools. She was the founding principal at Walter Payton College Prep and principal of Agassiz Elementary School. In 2006, Ms. Ward was named Chief Officer of the CPS Office of Principal Preparation and Development. She retired from this office in 2008 and was named to the Board in June of 2015.

Dr. Hines was also a teacher and principal at the elementary and high school levels. She has worked in education in the Chicagoland area for more than 35 years. During her 15 years as a school principal in CPS, she led Hendricks Elementary School and John Hope College Prep High School. Dr. Hines also worked as a coach for first-year principals, a mentor for current principals and prospective principals in Chicago and other parts of the country. She retired in 2005 and was named to the Board in May of 2011.

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