Bayard Rustin Principal Wins Edward Shirley Award
Rachel DuBois, principal of Bayard Rustin Elementary School, is the 2021 recipient of the Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision.
This prestigious award, given by the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP), is presented annually to an administrator or supervisor who exemplifies outstanding leadership and accomplishments in purposeful leadership, instructional or systemwide leadership, human resources development, resource management, interpersonal skills, professional involvement, and community and stakeholder involvement.
For 21 years, DuBois has devoted her life to educating students in MCPS. She began her career as an elementary school teacher and also worked as a gifted and talented coordinator. She started her path to leadership as a staff development teacher before becoming an administrator in 2010. In the fall of 2018, after six years as principal of Piney Branch Elementary School, she was appointed the principal of Bayard Rustin, a new school that she helped build from the ground up.
DuBois is known by colleagues, parents and community leaders as a role model for inclusivity. She has worked with staff to create and implement a vision for Bayard Rustin Elementary, which honors a gay civil rights leader as its namesake. She constantly asks “what is best for our students” and works hard to ensure every student, staff member and family feels a sense of belonging. She believes in the importance of a school environment where diversity is valued and seen as a strength. A community leader described her as a “bright light in the community” and a strong administrator, from academics and compassionate leadership to fostering the best in others.
DuBois values shared leadership, does everything with purpose and trusts people to make decisions. Her colleagues say she is deeply connected to the school community and that she understands the needs of the stakeholders she serves. School community members hail her unmatched work ethic and commitment to provide for their needs.
Staff describe DuBois as having an infectious spirit. She encourages staff to have fun together and says that all employees play a critical role in healthy school culture. DuBois is often heard saying that “the work we do is important, but at the end of the day, it’s the relationships and the people that matter.” She takes the time to lead with a listening ear and is always there to support a staff member in crisis or to celebrate an exciting breakthrough. She encourages staff to lead with hearts and minds, and creates a positive culture with staff, seeing themselves as a family. She is an invested leader who emphasizes that everybody matters.
Stories shared by students demonstrate her dedication to foster academic achievement; to assist with problem solving; and to provide nurturing guidance to students as they learn and grow. She has an extraordinary ability to intrinsically motivate students and has built relationships that reflect the philosophy that every student needs a champion in their lives. She is a champion for children, and she demonstrates this through instructional leadership that ensures that staff have the resources and professional development they need to continue to serve students well.
The school community recognizes that she is an advocate and a partner. Parents says she is courageous, humble, honest and an outstanding leader who always has a smile on her face.
DuBois will be honored by MCAAP/MCBOA at the spring membership meeting in May.