A southern Illinois school administrator has received a statewide award.
Natalie Fry, the principal at East Side Intermediate School in Harrisburg, is a recipient of the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership.
Fry was nominated for the award, which honors exemplary performance in school leadership. She says that made it extra special.
"My superintendent actually nominated me, and I've worked with him for about four years. I'm implementing some new initiatives for improvement, and I think he really was proud that I was part of the district. I think that's the part - when you have somebody internal, that's worked with you, to nominate you."
Fry has helped implement several academic programs which have elevated East Side's state designation, including a new curriculum, third and fourth-grade reading room, academic vocabulary at each grade level, co-teaching and integration of Chromebooks/Google classrooms.
She says the success she's had is thanks to her teaching staff, who she calls rock stars.
"At this point in my career, we've built such a trust around student improvement and what's best for kids that now the teachers come to me with these ideas. They're like, 'Hey, will you support this?' and of course, if it's what's best for kids and I can financially make it right, and we can do it as a team, we go for it."
For winning the award, Fry receives a cash award of $5,000, with another $5,000 going to the school for a project of her choosing.