Principal at “The Knoll” Wins Shirley Award
Frank Kaplan’s 16 years as principal at Strawberry Knoll Elementary School can perhaps be best summed up in two words: He cares. He is a beloved leader at “The Knoll,” what some have described as the Happiest School on Earth. He has an encouraging word for everyone he sees every day, whether they be a student, staff member or parent. He takes the time to meet families and talk to students about their interests and successes within their families and academically. He is known to always do what is in the best interest of his students.
Frank Kaplan is a rock star. So, it is perhaps no surprise that he has been named this year’s winner of the Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision.
He is described as supportive, nurturing and welcoming. He is accessible and approachable to students. They gravitate to him, to show off their work, ask questions or talk about sports, hobbies or vacations. He hosts regular Lunch Bunches in his office.
He also has an incredible ability to bring out the best in his staff. He cultivates risk taking, innovation and creativity.
As one staff member noted, Kaplan “is always able to see the gifts each staff member possesses and nurtures those gifts. … He is truly an intuitive leader. Ultimately, by fostering the potential in his staff members, he has created an environment with teachers who are able to meet the needs of all of their students.”
Staff members are encouraged to share professional development opportunities through Professional Learning Communities focused on small group math instruction and staff development that focus on the capacity of teachers in the building. Kaplan provides teachers with paraeducators to facilitate co-teaching and small group instruction where it is most important, in reading and math.
He “understands that every child deserves a champion, a significant adult who will never give up on them,” says Donna Sagona, principal at Laytonsville Elementary School. “Every child deserves an adult who insists that they will succeed at high levels and has the knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs to make sure that they do! Every school community deserves a champion like Frank Kaplan.”
Kaplan will be among the honorees at the Champions for Children celebration on May 3 at Wheaton High School, an event hosted by MCPS and the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE).