Gail Holzer, principal of Redeemer Lutheran School, Oakmont, Pa., is one of 57 national and international educators recognized as a 2009 “National Distinguished Principal” (NDP) by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the U.S. Department of Education. She received her award Oct. 23 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The NDP program “promotes educational excellence for pre-K-8 schooling and calls attention to the fundamental importance of the school principal. The program honors principals who have exhibited extraordinary leadership, commitment to their students and staff, service to their communities, and contributions to the profession, including their professional associations,” according to the NDP Web site. “Being recognized as a National Distinguished Principal is not only a prestigious accomplishment, it is the highest praise a principal can receive from his or her peers in the profession.”
Holzer, who has served as principal of the 146-student school since 1993, was also named the 2009 Distinguished Lutheran Elementary Administrator by the Lutheran Education Association (LEA) in February. The LEA nominated her for the award.
“Gail is an outstanding Lutheran school administrator,” said William Cochran, director of School Ministry for the Synod’s Board for District and Congregational Services. “She is well respected by her peers. She has been the driving force behind the growth and development of Redeemer Lutheran School. I am proud of Gail for this outstanding accomplishment.”
Holzer, who also teaches 2nd through 8th grade grammar and writing, said the honor made her “keenly aware of the responsibilities that administrators have as leaders, and more so for Lutheran principals as we are teachers of the faith.
“Some days when I look out over my student body, I am amazed that the Lord has placed them in my care and has given me the opportunity to share the Christian faith with them,” she told Reporter. “It is very humbling, and a position that must be taken very seriously.”
Holzer said that families look to the school for support and answers to the issues they face in today’s society.
“They come to our schools to find peace, comfort, protection, and acceptance, as well as the best way to meet their child’s special needs. We must be ready, prepared, and armed with answers. Fortunately, we are not alone. We meet those challenges with the Word of God, prayer, and the support of our congregation, district, Synod, and each other by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
At the two-day awards event in Washington, D.C., Holzer said she enjoyed meeting administrators from all over the country who are facing similar challenges in education, but the experience also made her realize that Lutheran principals have access to resources that public school principals do not.
“We have some of the best people in educational leadership, experts across the board keeping us informed and current especially in the area of technology, outstanding higher education institutions, and most of all we have a message that withstands time and changing trends. It is a great time for Lutheran education.”
Holzer received her bachelor’s degree in education at Clarion State University in 1977, and completed colloquy at Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2009. She is currently working on a master’s degree in technology/education through Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon. She and her husband, Robert, have three children.
This is the 26th year in a row that an LCMS educator received the award.
Posted Nov. 18, 2009