Superintendent McCracken Named ‘Superintendent of Distinction'

Jay K. McCracken, superintendent of Putnam County Community Unit School District 535 in Granville, has been named the 2016 Superintendent of Distinction by his colleagues in the Starved Rock Region of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).

McCracken will be honored at an awards luncheon April 21 in Springfield. State Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith is the featured speaker at the luncheon that will honor 21 IASA regional Superintendents of Distinction.

“I am honored to be nominated by my fellow superintendents, as they are a phenomenal group of dedicated professionals! The support among our Starved Rock IASA membership has helped all of us become more successful in meeting the ever-changing needs of our students,” said McCracken, who has been an educator 39 years, serving as a teacher, coordinator of professional development and dean of students before being named superintendent in Putnam County in 2008-2009.

Those nominating McCracken noted several accomplishments, including:

    -Implementation of a 1:1 technology program using Chromebooks for all students in grades 5-12 and classroom Chromebooks in grades 3 and 4.
    -Reactivation of the Educational Program Improvement Council (EPIC) to ensure cohesive curriculum decisions as well as utilizing Illinois Virtual School to allow students advanced courses that otherwise would not be available in a small- to medium-sized school district.
    -Implementation of PC College Start, a partnership program with Illinois Valley Community College that provides an opportunity for students to potentially earn an Associate’s Degree while attending Putnam County High School.
    -Commitment to Rising Star, a program dedicated to continuous improvement that includes school improvement measures and focused action items.
    -Use of Response to Intervention coaches in each building to help teachers provide focused support for students that need help in certain academic areas. Also, implementation of the PC Paws behavior management program that focuses on students’ social emotional learning.
    -A PC mentoring program that provides real support for new teachers. Regular times are embedded in the schedule for mentoring and teachers are paid for additional hours needed to implement the program with integrity. Professional development opportunities for all teachers and staff include early dismissal twice a month for internal professional development and staff is regularly sent for targeted training.

“Public education is facing some of its most difficult times, and that is when leadership is most important. These ‘Superintendents of Distinction’ were selected by their peers in their regions because of the dedication, commitment and leadership that they have demonstrated,” said IASA Executive Director Dr. Brent Clark.

The second annual awards luncheon is again being sponsored by Horace Mann, one of the nation’s largest insurers focusing on the needs of educators.

“Each year, educators face growing challenges, and this year is no exception. Despite those challenges, superintendents constantly find ways to make their school districts successful,” said Marita Zuraitis, Horace Mann President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to recognize the ‘Superintendents of Distinction’ and applaud their efforts to provide outstanding educational environments for their students and their teachers.”

McCracken achieved his Bachelor of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University, his Master’s Degree from Aurora University, and his Superintendent’s Endorsement from Western Illinois University. He and his wife, Kimberley, have a daughter, Megan Rolfs (husband Brian) and two grandsons, Gavin and Aiden Rolfs.

Source: Putnam County CUSD 535