Hugh J. York

O’Neill Elementary School
O’Neill Public Schools
O’Neill, Nebraska

For principal Jim York, school leadership is not a “one man show” but rather a group effort requiring the full, empowered participation of teachers, staff, families, and community members. As principal of O’Neill Elementary School, York takes a relationship-oriented leadership approach, actively soliciting stakeholder perspectives so he can make decisions that will benefit as many children and staff as possible. He believes the best way to support students is to support excellence in instruction through MTSS, facilitate the active participation of parents and caregivers, and build a culture of positivity by celebrating successes along the academic journey. Family engagement at O’Neill is multifaceted. Weekly “Mission Videos” ensure that caregivers are abreast of what is happening at school, while annual Reading, Math, and Science Nights help them access and understand the curriculum. Under York’s leadership, the school recently launched a Family Literacy program to increase engagement with harder-to-reach families through adult education classes and activities focused on helping parents understand their child’s learning journey. Twenty-five parents participated and met their learning goals in the first year, while some participants have gone on to serve the school as language interpreters, coaches, and referees. Previously a counselor and classroom teacher, York holds M.S. degrees in Educational Guidance and Administration from Chadron State College and Wayne State College, respectively, as well as a B.S. in Elementary Education from Wayne State College.