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Chinatown Principal Named One of The Best In The Country

By Joe Ward | July 19, 2017 5:51am
 Principal Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek shows off the awards St. Therese's students have won.
Principal Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek shows off the awards St. Therese's students have won.
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Peter Jones

CHINATOWN — Nearly three months after receiving a prestigious, regional award for educators, St. Therese Chinese Catholic School Principal Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek has been named one of the most outstanding elementary school leaders in the country. 

Cavallone-Jurek was named a 2017 National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Archdiocese of Chicago said in a press release. The principals' group established the award in 1984 to recognize middle-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement and school environment.

Each year the group selects one principal from each state for the honor, plus a few private and international school principals, according to its website.

As St. Therese's principal since 2004, Cavallone-Jurek took over the school at 247 W. 23rd St. during a time of tanking enrollment and financial problems. She helped to turn the school's fortunes around by diversifying its coursework and extracurriculars and instilling a culture that has attracted quality educators and families, current and former staff told DNAinfo in a recent feature on the principal.

There is now a waiting list for enrollment as the school seeks to expand its campus.

Cavallone-Jurek was just one of three Catholic school principals awarded by the group, according to the Archdiocese.

"Mrs. Cavallone-Jurek's exceptional leadership is felt not only at St. Therese Chinese Catholic School but also across out more than 200 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago," Jim Rigg, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese, said in a statement. "We are grateful to the National Association of Elementary School Principals for acknowledging her incredible dedication and enthusiasm and the time she invests in our students' academic excellence and achievement."

Cavallone-Jurek is also the winner of the 2017 Golden Apple Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award, one of 10 local educators and the only one from a Catholic school to receive the honor. She was notified of her award at a surprise ceremony on March 23.

"I am tremendously honored to receive this national award," Cavallone-Jurek said in a statement. "It's humbling to be recognized not only for my work at St. Therese Chinese Catholic School but also for my contributions on behalf of all the Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of Chicago. It's truly a privilege to work with an incredible team of educators who are devoted to our students' intellectual and spiritual development and success."