Michael J. Merritt
Gardner Grade School
Gardner Grade School District 72C
Dr. Michael J. Merritt’s supervisor describes him as having a “deep understanding of modern leadership and the moral imperative to lead a school community through the challenging shifts occurring in education across the state and country.” As prin-cipal of Brentwood Elementary for the last five years, Merritt has leveraged his skills at relationship-building and instructional leadership to build a professional learning culture that works rigorously to hone teaching strategies that support learning for all students. In recent years, this work has been focused on restructuring the school’s multi-tiered system of support. Together with colleagues on the Synergy Team, Merritt meets with grade level teams, supporting them to collectively analyze data and deter-mine appropriate instructional practices for students performing at each tier. The model has already contributed to positive professional growth and overall growth, particularly in literacy. Merritt has accompanied this work with an increased focus on supporting social-emotional learning through daily opening and closing circles and a weekly learning block. Merritt is committed to creating a positive and welcoming school climate and gets to work making that vision a reality before students arrive on their first day of kindergarten; each year, he ventures into the community to welcome every new student and family to Brentwood. Merritt recently accepted a position as the new Principal/Superintendent at Gardner Grade School District 72C. He holds a Doctorate from the University of St. Francis, a Master’s from Concordia University, and a Bachelor’s from Illinois State University.