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Forest Grove principal earns statewide high school honor Print E-mail

john-oneill.jpg Earlier this month, Forest Grove High School received the Oregon Department of Education’s “Closing the Achievement Gap” award for the third year in a row.  While it takes a team effort to accomplish such a feat, OASSA determined that one man’s leadership has certainly played an important role – and that’s why John O’Neill has been selected as Oregon’s High School Principal of the Year. 

An administrator for the past 15 years, O’Neill came to Forest Grove High School from California in 2002.  In those few short years, great progress has been made in this diverse school of 1900 students.

Prior to his arrival in 2002, 50 percent of FGHS students met the state reading standards.  In the 2006-07, 81 percent met or exceeded the state benchmark, compared to a statewide average of 55 percent.  Even more dramatic have been the math gains: from 29 percent meeting state standards prior to 2002, to 79 percent in the 2006-07.  Under O’Neill’s leadership, Forest Grove High School met adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law. 

Holding high expectations for all students has been O’Neill’s trademark.  FGHS provides enrichment courses provided for students who need them, and advisory groups have been formed to personalize students’ education.  Over the past six years, the school has significantly expanded its Advanced Placement courses for college credit—from eight offerings to 21, and 475 students are now enrolled in the school’s AP program.

These achievements have not gone unnoticed.  This school year, John and members of his team were invited to the NASSP Convention to showcase their school as a Breakthrough High School.  In 2007, he was a Milken National Educator Award recipient, and this year FGHS received a 2008 Model School Award from the International Center for Educational Leadership. 

Forest Grove teacher Whitney Karp had this to say about O’Neill: “While John’s leadership has definitely facilitated this process, he is always the first to point out that his staff is doing the work.  When attention is focused upon him for the significant and startling strides our school has made, he immediately refocuses it onto the staff and students.  What better sign of leadership is there than the recognition of those who follow?”

This page was last updated on Thursday, May 22, 2008 .