Member Spotlight: Illinois Principal Leverages Sports Background

Principal, March/April 2017

Kathy A. Melton

Lowell Elementary School
Wheaton, Illinois

The stats:

  • Years principal: 6


  • B.A. in Elementary Education, University of St. Francis
  • M.S. Ed. in Educational Administration, Northern Illinois University
  • Ed.D in Educational Administration, Northern Illinois University

Student body:

  • 400 students
  • Grade span: K-5
  • School type: Suburban
  • Socioeconomic status: 26 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch
  • Unique populations: English-language learners, some having joined through the World Relief Refugee Resettlement, others having joinged for a year at a time as missionary furlough families
  • Primary and intermediate cross-categorical special education classes.

Kathy A. Melton has become a go-to source for using social media to connect with and learn from other principals. But she started out as a teacher and soccer coach. That foundation initially peaked her interest in school leadership, given the common emphasis on working as a team toward a common goal. Melton learned valuable lessons on collaborating, self-discipline, managing time, and taking risks through her time as an athlete. As a coach, she worked hard to maximize resources, elevate her teams’ performance, build athletes of character, and form meaningful connections with parents and the community.

On greatest challenges:

As a school leader, I am continuously looking for effective, effi cient ways to balance the “must do” tasks of my daily work, my responsibility to stay informed on larger policy issues, and the invaluable time spent in classrooms, building relationships, and supporting my team.

On daily inspiration:

The most memorable experiences are often individual student successes. Our staff members work as teams to ensure students have what they need. Seeing a child succeed, and then staff and parents celebrating that success is joyful all around.

On leveraging social media:

My advice is to simply get started. My own social media use transformed from getting information from professional organizations to connecting and contributing in a variety of ways. Know that you can’t—and don’t need to—keep up with every tweet or post. Know that YOU, too, have a story to share!

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