Shaka Rawls and Dan McGrath

Leo High School might well remember 2021 as the Year of Shaka.

Shaka Rawls ’93, Leo’s principal since 2016, will receive the Leo Alumni Association’s Man of the Year award at the Alumni Banquet on Friday, Oct. 22. The Association chose Principal Rawls for the award in 2020, but that year’s banquet was postponed due to COVID concerns, so the presentation will take place at this year’s event.

“No offense to the other winners, but Mr. Rawls could have been Man of the Year each year he has been at Leo—his impact has been that significant,” school President Dan McGrath said. “An enrollment increase of more than 60 percent is pretty impressive, but just as important is the culture he has instilled. The kids feel good about being here; their parents feel good about having them here. That’s the Shaka Rawls Effect.”

While the Leo Man of the Year award might be the most meaningful, it is not the only honor to come Mr. Rawls’ way recently.

  • In August he was recognized as a Man of Excellence by the Chicago Defender media organization.
  • Later this month he will receive the first Helen Dumas Excellence in Education award from the Faith Community of St. Sabina.
  • On Friday, Nov. 5, Mr. Rawls and former Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens will present to the First Friday Club of Chicago. The topic: How to provide a quality, values-based education in a smart, safe environment that shields young men from the dangers so prevalent on Chicago’s streets.
  • In its December issue, Chicago Magazine will recognize Mr. Rawls as a “Chicagoan of the Year,” in honor of “the great work [you] have been doing for your students and the community.”

An Emmy? An Oscar? NFL MVP? Don’t rule out anything for Mr. Rawls this year.