When a ballplayer is elected to the Hall of Fame, it’s a point of pride for him that he’s able to add “HoF” to his autograph. According to urban folklore, the honorific makes the signature worth more at card shows.

It’s not “HoF,” and it’s not likely there will be any card-show invitations, but “PoY” is a three-letter symbol of achievement that Leo Principal Shaka Rawls can add to his signature if he’s so inclined: Principal of the Year. Mr. Rawls has been selected as Principal of the Year for the Cook County region of the Illinois Principals Association, after being nominated by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools.

“It’s my name on the plaque and I’m grateful for the honor, but this is really an award for the entire school and what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Mr. Rawls said. 

A statewide Principal of the Year will be selected from among the regional winners and announced in the spring. With Mr. Rawls coming out of the state’s most populous region with the most high schools, we like his chances. 

We also like his performance.

“This is a terrific honor for Shaka, and certainly well-deserved,” Leo President Dan McGrath said. “It says ‘2021’ on the plaque, but the award really symbolizes all he has been able to achieve in his five years here. I can’t imagine there’s a principal out there who’s had a greater impact on his or her school than Shaka has had on Leo.” 

Dr. John Glimco, who oversees Archdiocesan secondary schools as Associate Superintendent for the Office of Catholic Schools, presented Mr. Rawls with the PoY award in a ceremony at Leo on Tuesday, Feb. 9. The COVID pandemic and the restrictions it has necessitated have disrupted schools nationwide, but Leo’s ability to keep functioning smoothly is an example of the leadership PoY selectors recognized in choosing Mr. Rawls for the award, Glimco said.

“All of us at the Arch are very proud of Shaka, and delighted that a Catholic school principal is the recipient of what is a really prestigious honor.”

Josh Hale, President and CEO of the Big Shoulders Fund, also attended the presentation. “Shaka’s the best,” Hale said. “His leadership, his commitment … what he has brought to Leo makes us proud to work with you guys.”

Leo’s streak of graduating 100 percent of its seniors has reached 10 years during Mr. Rawls’ tenure. Enrollment has increased by nearly 60 percent in his five years, with the largest freshman class in 15 years and the highest overall enrollment in 12 years in the building for the current school year.

But he’s far from finished. “This is no time for touchdown dances,” Mr. Rawls said. “Let’s get to work.”