Shaka Rawls, a 1993 Leo High School graduate, has been Leo’s principal since 2016. During that time the school has experienced a 50-percent enrollment increase, as well as significant upgrades to its curriculum, technology and physical plant. Mr. Rawls holds a Bachelor’s degree from Aurora University, where he played football and wrestled, and a Master’s from the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he is completing a doctorate in educational policy. Mr. Rawls is regarded as a national leader in urban education and is a sought-after speaker on issues related to the topic. He has received a Chicagoan of the Year award from Chicago Magazine, a Defender Man of Excellence award from Chicago Defender Media and the Helen Dumas Excellence in Education award from the Faith Community of St. Sabina. A member of the Leo High School Hall of Fame, he was the Leo Alumni Association’s Man of the Year in 2020. Mr. Rawls and his wife, Rukiya Byrd Rawls, have a teenage daughter, Samira.
“When I was a student at Leo, it never occurred to me that I might one day serve as the school’s principal, but I was honored to accept the position and I’m excited to come to work every day. These are tough times to be a young man of color in Chicago, but as we approach our 100th year of service to South Side communities, we remain committed to the Leo Mission of preparing our young men for lives as responsible, productive, caring and capable citizens. Part of that preparation involves overcoming adversity, so we set high standards and challenge our students to meet them in the classroom, on the playing field and in the community. We support and encourage them at every step of the process. Each young Leo Man knows he is a valued and respected member of the Leo Family.”