Discovery Oaks Elementary School
Clay County School District
Orange Park, Florida
Tracy McLaughlin is a firm believer in distributed leadership guided by clear expectations and a common vision for excellence. As a principal for the last eight years, she has lived this belief by building authentic relationships that allow stakeholders to come together to advance change. As principal of Ridgeview Elementary, she has rallied the community to shift culture toward inclusion and high expectations for all students, leading the school to earn an “A” rating and the highest performance gains in the district. She calls this victory—which was possible with 70 percent of students living at or below the poverty line and without Title I funds—“a story of people and the power of trust, commitment to learning, leadership, and caring.” Building on this turnaround success, McLaughlin built a coalition around a shared vision of educational equity to campaign and achieve Title I status for the school. This experience prepared her to take the lead in opening Discovery Oaks Elementary, a brand new STEAM school where McLaughlin is responsible for guiding the development and implementation of technology-driven curricula, while managing a 78-person staff team and a $3.5 million operating budget. Ridgeview Elementary received the 2018 School of Excellence Award, and McLaughlin was named 2017-2018 Principal of the Year for Clay County. She holds an M.Ed. in Leadership and a B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Maine.