Dr. Michael Allen

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Submitted by School District 65

Dr. Michael Allen, Principal of Oakton Elementary in District 65, has been named the 2020 Elementary Principal of the Year (North Cook Region) by the Illinois Principals Association. The prestigious award recognizes school principals who have demonstrated a positive impact on their students and learning community.

“I believe that the Elementary Principal of the Year award is much more about the work and support of the Oakton staff, students and, of course, our families and community than me. While I am deeply humbled by the honor, I am also very grateful that I get to serve each day advocating for the students at Oakton,” said Dr. Allen.

Dr. Allen has been a school administrator for twelve years (eight as principal) and has led the Oakton community for the past two years. Under his leadership, staff, parents, and students have worked together and have devoted collective effort and energy into improving climate and culture at Oakton Elementary. “Over the past two years, our focus has been on providing CARE (Committed Authentic Relationships to Everyone). Mindfulness practices have been implemented building-wide and we have revamped our school’s PBIS system so that it is centered on restorative practices, character traits, and relationships. In addition, we focused on developing meaningful relationships with all staff in the building,” said Dr. Allen.

Some highlights of success from the 2018-2019 school year include:

  • an increase of 44 points on the 5Essentials Survey in teacher to principal trust;
  • 30% increase in staff attendance;
  • 55% reduction in office discipline referrals that were issued to students; and
  • an improvement on the Illinois School Report Card rating from “Underperforming” to “Commendable” 

“We are so fortunate that Dr. Allen has chosen to be a part of District 65. He is a tremendous educator and principal who is entirely devoted to the students he serves,” said Dr. Heidi Wennstrom, Interim Superintendent. “He leads with compassion and strives for equity – putting relationships first while still achieving results. Dr. Allen sees the humanity in every child and he is quite deserving of this honor.”

Dr. Allen spent his early childhood in the Hebron projects in Zion, Illinois and later experienced homelessness when he moved with his family to Waukegan. Despite his reality, he shared that he has always been very aware that he could accomplish anything. Dr. Allen became a school principal at the age of 24.  He has a doctorate in administration and supervision from Loyola University, post-master’s certification in educational leadership from Chicago State University, a master’s degree in elementary education from Valparaiso University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Valparaiso University. Dr. Allen continues to be committed to influencing policies that have proven to hold people of color down and is a huge proponent of trauma informed practices, equity, emotional intelligence and mindfulness in schools.