Paul Snellenberger named 2006 Harold Award honoree

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Paul Snellenberger, principal of Liberty Intermediate School in Bourbonnais, is the recipient of the Pledge for Life Partnership’s 2006 Harold Award.

The Harold Award, named after the mascot of the I-KAN Regional Office of Education’s Life Education Center programs, is presented annually by the Partnership to recognize individuals for their commitment and work with area youth. He was recognized at the Partnership’s annual meeting October 26 at the Kankakee County Club.

Snellenberger has dedicated his 32 year career as an educator and administrator to the students and teachers of Bourbonnais Elementary School District No. 53. He also has been a committed supporter of the Life Education Center (LEC) program since it was first introduced 17 years ago and is a founding member of the LEC advisory board.

“Mr. Snellenberger is very deserving of this award,” stressed Brenda Wetzel, coordinator of the LEC program. “He’s a great principal, a great person and a great example!”

The Partnership is not alone in its praise. Snellenberger was unable to accept this award in person because he was in Washington, D.C. being honored with the National Distinguished Principal Award from the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The award acknowledges principals who have been a force for positive change, educational improvement and community leadership.

The Illinois Principal’s Association selected Snellenberger from among 5,000 nominations from across the state to receive the Illinois Principal of the Year Award. He attended the ceremony in Washington with elementary principals from 49 other states.

“I wish I could have been there, but these plans were made in advance,” he apologized. “I’ve watched the LEC grow since its beginning. It is a very worthwhile program. The great thing is that the focus is on wellness. The message is positive … Choose Wise Highs …something students can relate to.”

Raised in Huntington, Indiana, Snellenberger settled in the area in 1974 after graduating from Olivet Nazarene College. He began his career teaching science at Bourbonnais Upper Grade Center and after earning his master’s degree in educational administration was named assistant principal. In 1986 he took the lead at Robert Frost School until moving over to Alan Shepard School in 1996. He was named principal of the new Liberty Intermediate School two years ago.

Liberty provided the perfect platform for his leadership abilities. The $16 million building opened after nearly eight years of planning and was designed to accommodate unique and innovative educational opportunities like explorer classes and team teaching. Students are exposed to more subjects like Spanish, technology, art and music while teachers are allowed to focus on fewer subjects and tailor specialties to individual strengths. “A key role is to cast vision, but you have to take care of your people,” he stated in a Sept. 13 interview with The Daily Journal. “The way we treat people affects the way they follow … Education is not a one-man show. It’s a team of people. I am a coach basically and I have a great team of teachers.”

Snellenberger will retire at the end of the school year. “I will continue to work full-time, but I’m not sure doing exactly what. It’s too early to say … but maybe something in human resource management.”

Although their two children, Amy and Ryan are grown, he and his wife, Val, a nurse for Provena Home Health Care, plan to remain in the Kankakee area.

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