Vinton-Shellsburg administrators have announced that  Tilford elementary principal Jim Murray has been named the 2017 Iowa Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators of Iowa.

There are about 650 elementary principals in Iowa. While this award is given by SAI, Mr. Murray was nominated by staff and parents from his building last spring. Some of the quotes from the nominations included:

  • “Mr. Murray leads by example and is continually seeking effective, engaging professional development for all staff. He attends our professional development as a learner and reinforces his learning to us by leading by example.”
  • “..he has always held his employees to a very high standard of professionalism here at Tilford. How we dress, how we work with students and parents, the examples we set in our daily tasks have always been held to a very high standard.”
  • “…He takes the time for kids whether they are in trouble or earn reward time with him. If they are in trouble, he helps them work through whatever problem they are facing. He doesn’t accusem but helps them to tell him the trouble about what happened and how to make good decisions the next time a situation may occur.”
  • “I can sum up Mr. Murray’s leadership style in a simple sentence – He does what is best for kids.”
  • “Vinton-Shellsburg is fortunate to have Mr. Murray as a part of our school-community.  He understands the commitment that it takes to be a school leader.  He has what it takes including a passion to not just say let’s do it for kids but the willingness and skills to actually put that passion into action. In particular, he understands the importance of having a positive climate and culture within his building and how it in turn impacts students’ success. I am grateful that Mr. Murray chooses to be a part of our district.

The “Dream Team” in Tilford’s office with Principal Jim Murray. Lisa Boeckmann (seated) and Sarah Reid (standing).

“It is an honor for our state to have Jim Murray represent us as the next Elementary Principal of the Year. His ability to motivate staff and students, and really focus on building relationships and establishing a positive building climate is inspiring to us all,” SAI Executive Director Roark Horn said.

“I sincerely appreciate the recognition from my SAI colleagues. It’s my privilege to serve with outstanding elementary staff members who work as a team doing what’s best for students. They deserve the credit for Tilford Elementary School’s accomplishments. Our district has great kids and supportive parents. I’m grateful to the Vinton-Shellsburg school board members for the opportunity to lead Tilford Elementary and to the other district administrative leaders who push me to learn and improve,” Murray commented.

Murray has served as Tilford’s principal since 2003. Prior to that, he was an elementary principal at Independence Community Schools. He began his career as an elementary teacher in the former Wall Lake View Auburn Community School District. His education includes a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Iowa State University and his master’s degree in school administration and leadership from Buena Vista University.

He was nominated by his peers, selected by a committee of Iowa elementary principals, and will be recognized at a governor’s awards ceremony in May and the association’s annual conference in August. The National Association of Elementary School Principals will also honor him as a National Distinguished Principal this fall in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Murray’s nomination included letters from former School Board member Megan Rickels, Tilford teacher Sarah Mathis, Tilford secretary Lisa Boeckmann, Tilford library associate Denise Wiley.

SAI, a statewide organization founded in 1987, represents more than 1,800 Iowa educational administrators. SAI’s mission is to support, encourage and develop Iowa’s educational leaders and learners.