Kelley Brunner and Renee Kory

Kelley Brunner and Renee Kory

Maricopa County School Superintendent Steve Watson has given Exemplary Principal awards to two Kyrene principals.

Renee Kory, principal at Aprende Middle School in Chandler, and Kelley Brunner, principal at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary in Ahwatukee were named last week.

Watson is recognizing “leaders who understand the connection between a thriving school culture and high levels of student achievement and teacher retention,” the district said in a release.

“These leaders intentionally and strategically nurture school environments where teacher and student voices set and realize the school’s vision,” it continued. 

“They lead schools where students achieve academically and emotionally, and teachers are inspired to remain at the school and in the profession.”

Award recipients undergo a rigorous evaluation that involves a superintendent nomination, application, teacher survey, video interview, site visit and extensive data review. 

Kory and Brunner were selected based on their ability to: engage staff, parents and community members in developing an effective school culture;  utilize data to guide instruction and decisions regarding staff development; demonstrate high teacher retention; and develop and inspire others.

“We could not be more proud of Kelley and Renee as they receive this award,” said Kyrene Superintendent Laura Toenjes. “They have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their schools and are highly respected by teachers, staff, parents and the community.” 

Watson said, “Kelley is a servant-leader who is passionately committed to the growth of her students and educators. She values teacher input and autonomy and has created an environment where teachers feel both supported and empowered.”

“Renee Kory is a strong instructional leader who is relentless in her focus on equity and inclusion and on improving academic and social-emotional outcomes for all students,” he continued. “She cares passionately about her staff and students and is a strong advocate for her school community and the district.”

Brunner and Kory join the following Kyrene principals who have received this award in the past: Tonya Yalung, 2017; Dr. Marianne Lescher, 2018; Dr. Ana Gomez del Castillo, 2019; and Nancy Branch, 2019.

Brunner has been with the district since 1986 and was a classroom teacher for 23 years. She is guiding the school’s development as a STEM school. Kory is continuing to develop the school’s AVID program. AVID, an acronym for  Advancement Via Individual Determination, helps prepare students for college.

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