Derek A. Straight
James C. Bush Elementary School
Johnsburg Community Unit School District 12
Johnsburg, Illinois

“When I took over the school 10 years ago, our educational program was good,” says Derek Straight. But he adds, “We all believed it could be better.” Straight and his staff wanted to improve the curriculum and general organization of their small-town school. First he decided to bolster teacher leadership by creating team leader positions on his staff. Straight won approval from the superintendent and school board for stipends for these positions. Other significant changes that followed under Straight’s leadership at Bush Elementary included streamlining the curriculum and revising the school schedule to create longer blocks of time to support reading and math achievement. Straight’s staff also created a strategic plan and set school improvement goals. One such goal was to improve the physical environment of the school. To that end, Straight secured grants from two local businesses for playground improvements such as installing new equipment and borders and weeding and mulching the gardens. Straight counts among his key accomplishments as a principal his support for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts service projects during the last decade. Two projects involved playground additions that advanced the school beautification goal. He also has hosted information meetings for scouts on the principal’s job and educational preparation. He received a B.A. from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota and an M.Ed. from National-Louis University in Illinois.