Kay Pangle named 2004 Harold Award recipient

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Dr. Kay Pangle, regional superintendent for Iroquois-Kankakee County schools, is the recipient of this year’s Harold Award from the Pledge for Life Partnership.

The Harold Award -- named after the Life Education Center’s 8 ft. mascot, Harold the Giraffe -- recognizes outstanding examples of dedication and commitment to the area’s youth. Dr. Pangle was presented the award at the Partnership’s annual meeting October 28 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kankakee.

Kay knows the formula for success. “Dreams without a plan are just a wish. But a dream with a plan becomes a goal and a goal is attainable,” she stressed.

It has been Pangle’s ability to translate dreams into plans that has sustained the Life Education Center programs for 15 years. She was responsible for securing the initial funding and staff to get the Life Education Center moving in Kankakee County and played a central role in securing the second mobile unit to serve Iroquois County. Pangle also has served as the treasurer of the Partnership since its inception.

“Without Kay’s leadership and willingness to do whatever it takes to help kids be successful in life, we would not be celebrating our 15th anniversary. She took Lura Lynn Ryan, Jack Charlton and Al Lemon’s dreams and made them a reality,” said Debra Baron, director of the Pledge for Life Partnership.

Pangle grew up in Springfield, Illinois and was the youngest of three children. Although her parents didn’t graduate from high school, they passed along their strong work ethic and value for education to her and her siblings, she said. Her father held two jobs — as a policeman on the 3 to 11 p.m. shift and delivered dry cleaning by day. Her mother worked as a telephone operator. When Kay was 16, her father died.

“I didn’t think I would be able to go to college, but decided to buckle down on my studies and got a job.” Her discipline paid off. Earning several scholarships, she attended St. Mary’s Dominican in New Orleans for one year and then transferred to Southern Illinois University where she graduated just two years later with a double major in English and psychology.

Pangle had always planned to become a child psychologist. “I had never wanted to be a teacher,” she recalled, “but needed to earn money for graduate school and filled in for a friend who went on maternity leave. I fell in love with it the first day I worked and never looked back.”

That was at Central Grade School in Roxanna, Illinois. She continued to substitute while rearing her three sons and, after moving here in 1974, went back to teaching full time at Alan Shepard School. In 1988, she was hired as assistant superintendent of schools for Kankakee County and was elected – the first of three times – as regional superintendent in 1994. Under her watch, the Iroquois County Regional Office of Education merged with the Kankakee office in 1995. “Being able to bring people together is one of the hardest things a leader can do and I’m proud the merger went so smoothly.”

In addition to initiating the LEC programs, Pangle’s administration also can be credited for several other programs that help students succeed including the truancy prevention program, the Regional Alternative Attendance Center, Teen REACH after-school program and the 21st Century Learning Centers.

“It has been my good fortune to surround myself with quality people, find them the resources they need, and then get out of the way so they can go do what they do best,” she said. “I am proud of these programs because they really have ‘widened’ the school house door by making more opportunities available to more children.”

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A Pledge for Life Partnership Initiative
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