Greenwell Named Missouri’s Principal of the Year
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By Marlana Smith
North Shelby High School Principal Kerri Greenwell thought Friday, Feb. 19 would be just another day of helping guide young people’s lives.
Little did she know that afternoon would turn into the highlight of her career to date.
Superintendent Kim Gaines and other faculty members made sure it came as a shock.
A pep rally for district basketball shifted in a completely different direction when Gaines and Clark Mershon, Executive Director with Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MoASSP) jointly announced Greenwell was the recipient of the 2021 Jim L. King Missouri High School Principal of the Year award.
“It is the most prestigious award I have ever won. I have never been so surprised in my life!” Greenwell said. “It is a great honor, and I am truly blessed to work at North Shelby.”
Greenwell’s oldest son, Elijah, almost inadvertently let the secret out with a 9:13 a.m. text to his mother.
“Congrats Mom! I’m very proud of you. Sorry I can’t be there today,” Elijah, a freshman at the University of Missouri, said.
Kerri asked Elijah what he was talking about to which he replied, “Gotcha!”
“Are you OK? You haven’t started doing drugs, have you?” Kerri jokingly asked Elijah.
Elijah said no and quickly shifted the subject and said he had an exam in 40 minutes.
Kerri admitted she had no clue what he was talking about and security held.
Twenty-five years ago, Kerri started in Room 12 taking over for her own former English teacher, Carol Farmer.
“One of the most rewarding moments is when a former student thanks you for helping him/her, even if it is 10-20 years down the road,” Greenwell said.
Later she began pursuit of a master’s degree with no intention of being a principal, but when Harold Eckler decided to go back to teaching full time, Kerri decided to apply.
“One reason was because I am passionate about North Shelby and was concerned about who might step into Harold’s role,” Greenwell added. “I loved teaching, but I have always been highly competitive and like a good challenge occasionally.”
During the ceremony, it was clear Gaines was extremely proud and happy for her colleague.
“I really don’t know anybody that probably loves her kids more than Kerri does. There are days she has to show tough love too, but that just goes with the role. North Shelby is so proud of her. I can’t say enough about the good job she does for us. It’s tough in a normal year to be a principal but throw this pandemic in on top of it, it’s made it very hard to be a principal.
“But she’s done it all with grace,” Gaines said.
Greenwell said Gaines’ leadership has helped her grow as an administrator.
“I would not be able to do my job without her guidance and support,” Greenwell added.
There are eight regions in Missouri and each region nominates their region principal of the year.
Greenwell was named Northeast Association Secondary School Principal of the Year in May of 2020.
Family members, friends, fellow faculty members and students rejoiced with Kerri on her historic recognition.