Booker High Principal Rachel Shelley honored by district as state Principal of the Year finalist

Winner to be named on June 21

In the Booker High School TV studio, Booker High Principal Rachel Shelley (center) prepares to announce the news to students. Gathered with her are (from left) Superintendent Todd Bowden, School Board member Jane Goodwin, School Board Vice Chair Bridget Ziegler, School Board Chair Caroline Zucker, School Board member Shirley Brown and Executive Director of High Schools Steve Cantees. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Schools

Booker High School Principal Rachel Shelley has been named one of three finalists for the 2017 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership, better known as the state Principal of the Year Award, the Sarasota County School District has announced.

During an April 24 visit to Booker High, School Board Chair Caroline Zucker presented Shelley with balloons, and Superintendent Todd Bowden gave her a bouquet of fresh flowers, a news release says. In a brief televised address to students, Bowden said, “A lot of people throughout Florida found out today what you already know — that Dr. Shelley is one of the best principals in the state. The Florida Department of Education has recognized her as one of their three finalists for this statewide award, the highest honor a Florida public school principal can receive.”

Shelley told the students she is “humbled and grateful” for the honor and said it really belonged to the entire school and the district, the release notes. She reminded students of her expectations that they all be college- and career-ready when they graduate from Booker High, the release continues. She ended with a quick directive to students: “Now back to class!”

On April 21, state Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart announced the three finalists for Florida’s 2017 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership. The awards recognize principals and assistant principals “for their exceptional contributions,” the release points out; the statewide winners will be announced during a ceremony on June 21.

Along with Shelley, the finalists for Principal of the Year are

Earl Johnson of Matanzas High School in Flagler County and Kevin Hendrick of Northeast High School in Pinellas County, the release notes.

Shelley has more than 28 years of experience in K-12 education, the state news release points out. “[She] has been praised by her colleagues for her dedication to helping every student succeed and for relationship-based leadership. … Dr. Shelley is a hands-on instructional leader who understands the value of data, and she tracks her schools and students’ performance measures to help her make informed decisions,” the release says.

The recipient of the 2017 Principal of the Year will receive a cash prize of $5,000, plus $1,000 for his or her school, the state release notes. Candidates were nominated by the superintendents of their respective school districts, the release adds.