ARGENTA — Argenta-Oreana High School has an award-winning principal, but Sean German eagerly shares credit with the people he shares the school hallways with each day.
German received the Herman Graves Award from the Illinois Principals Association on Oct. 16, the top award for principals in the state of Illinois.
“It's representative of the fact that I get the opportunity to work with great students and teachers and a supportive board of education,” German said. “It's a team effort, and I'm fortunate to receive the recognition.”
German knew he was the Abe Lincoln Region representative, but until they opened the envelope at the awards ceremony, he said, he didn't know he was the state winner.
“This is quite the honor,” Superintendent Damian Jones said.
German was nominated by Sangamon Valley High School Principal Jonathan Field.
“When I first came on board, (German) had just, a year or two later, become president of the whole state (IPA),” Field said. “He was great at making me feel welcome, and I really enjoyed being part of the association.
"I made good friends, connections that have been mentors and good colleagues. Herman Graves was the proponent of that, the model principal who you wanted to be like.”
Field said German has always gone out of his way to help.
“I'm also equally lucky to call him my friend,” Field said. “I couldn't think of anybody else who embodies the spirit of service and dedication for which the award was established. Sean is very dedicated to the IPA, his school and his students.”
German has been principal at Argenta-Oreana for 16 years, and a member of the IPA for 18 years.
He said in his application form, which nominees are asked to complete, that when he first became a principal, the Tom Howard Leadership Symposium offered by the IPA had a direct and lasting impact on his development as a principal. In the years since then, he said, the IPA's conferences and his fellow members have continued their support.
“Advocacy was an area I wanted to improve upon but was not quite as comfortable getting involved at first,” German wrote. “However, through multiple opportunities and experiences, I now look forward to talking with our representatives and senators at both the state and national level to advocate on behalf of students and educators.”
According to the IPA, the Herman Graves Award was established in 1991 to recognize outstanding service to IPA. Herman Graves was selected as the first honoree and the award was established because of the intrinsic contributions he made to the association and his enthusiasm for the profession.
Regional winners are chosen from the 21 regions of the Illinois Principals Association. From these, a state winner is chosen by a committee comprised of IPA past presidents.
German and his wife, Cara, just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary and have two children, Emmerson, 13, and Kelton, 11.