PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hundreds applied but only seven school administrators were recognized by the school district for this year’s Lindback Awards for Distinguished Principals.

“It really feels awesome!” Jeannine Payne leads Richard Wright Elementary, a job she interviewed for just two years ago with Superintendent William Hite.

“I get up at zero dark thirty and come home even later to make sure that I provide the supports that my school community and team need to be able to do their best,” she said.

The evening was extra special for Creative and Performing Arts principal Joanne Beaver, who picked up her award then watched her students sing for the crowd.

“There’s no words to describe it,” said Payne. “They bring me to tears even when I just walk into the choir room and watch them reherse. To have this moment, it’s so special to have them sharing it with me.”

Simon Hauber, principal at The Workshop School, says educators don’t get into it for the recognition and he’s humbled.

“In someways it feels a little strange when you know your colleuges are deserving as well,” he said. “At the same time, it’s wonderful that Lindback shines light on the great work that’s going on in the city.”

Calling them amazing individuals, Dr. Hite praised the work of these magnificent seven.

“Doing, everyday, extraordinary things in their schools in support of their children, in support of their staff, in support of their communities,” said Hite.

And he says it was a lot of work to pick the winners out of all the qualified applicants.

“It’s exceedingly important that we continue to recognize the efforts of individuals that always go unnoticed as schools operate and run,” he said.

Each winner received $20,000 to reinvest in their schools. They all have big plans.

“One of the things that we’re going to start to do is revamp and upgrade the technology in our theater,” Beaver said. “It is a hub of where everything happens.”

Payne is looking to spend on career development for her teachers. “Things change,” she said. “There are opportunities out there that we need to learn more about. There’s nothing like cash money to be able to fund that.”


You can see the full list of winners below:

Joanne Beaver has been the principal at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. Under her leadership, attendance has increased while lateness has decreased and academic standards have been improved. She is a lifelong supporter of the arts.

Simon Hauger is the principal at The Workshop School. He has been working in Philadelphia public education for 20 years. During that time, his students won multiple national competitions and were honored at the White House in 2010 and 2014.

Christopher Johnson became the founding principal of Science Leadership Academy at Beeber in 2012. He began his career in education by working as a substitute teacher and has worked in elementary, middle and high schools as both a teacher and administrator.

Andrew Lukov is principal at Southwark Elementary where he worked with community partners to develop the school’s Two-Way Immersion Bilingual program.

Jeannine Payne is a graduate of Central High School and spent her career working through the School District of Philadelphia, once working alongside her father at Strawberry Mansion High. She is currently the principal at Richard Wright Elementary.

Dr. Crystle Roye-Gill is a lifelong Philadelphian who attended Philly public schools and earned her masters from Temple University. She’s currently the principal at Thomas Holme Elementary School.