Bill McGuinness Receives "Educator of Excellence" Award
Independence High School Principal Bill McGuinness Receives
Alumni Association “Educator of Excellence” Award
On March 9, the Independence High School (IHS) Alumni Association recognized Bill McGuinness, principal of Independence High School and long-time employee of the district with the "Educator of Excellence" Award. Alumni Association members and colleagues nominate these individuals.
McGuinness has been with the district since 1994. After graduating from John Carroll University with a Bachelor of Arts in History/Teaching, he was hired by Independence Middle School as a history teacher. He taught seventh-grade geography and eighth-grade United States history for 17 years. In 2001, McGuinness began the district’s first Advanced Placement United States history class. At the time, it was for one student, Kara Laski, who wanted to be challenged more and was willing to drive to the middle school on Brecksville Road each day at 10 a.m. for the class. “He has touched the lives of so many students because of his dedication and true gift of transforming information into relatable, meaningful lessons, said Kara Laski, Class of 2003. “He absolutely is the best kind of teacher that has a lifelong positive impact on me.” The next year, the AP class grew to approximately eight students and every year after continued to increase in enrollment. McGuinness taught this class for 10 years with more than half of the junior class taking the course in his final years.
“Bill’s willingness to try something new and start an AP history class, even for one student, speaks to his character and dedication to our students,” said Board President Lynne Laski, Independence Local Schools. “As the class grew and it became a 6:30 a.m. class, even in 15 degree winter mornings, the students and teacher were ready to be in class. That is a tribute to the connection Bill has with his students, either as a teacher or principal.”
McGuinness became the principal of Independence High School in 2011. Under his leadership, the school has been named a top academic high school in the nation by the Washington Post, Daily Beast, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, The College Board and Gerber Analytics. Advanced Placement (AP) participation rates have been increasing and five new AP courses have been added under his time as principal. McGuinness has kept student safety and building security at the top of his priorities, developing a close working relationship with both the police and fire departments. The high school also continues to do well on state assessments.
Dozens of colleagues and others in the community attended the recognition luncheon. City of Independence Mayor Greg Kurtz presented him with a proclamation and proclaimed Monday, March 9, 2020, as "William McGuinness Day" in the City of Independence.
Previous recipients of the Educator of Excellence Award include Mark Echstenkamper, Joe O'Brien, Kendall Gunlicks, Fred Schuld, Jeffrey Enckler, Geraldine Kaftan and Scott Maretka. In its 12th year, the Independence High School Alumni Association does a great deal for the school district, its teachers, and students. They have given numerous scholarships to graduating seniors, totaling more than $9,000. They have made significant contributions to the school to help pay for robotics programs, banners, an iPod, athletic canopy, and national programs and speakers such as Rachel's Challenge. Each year at the IHS Commencement, the Alumni Association provides Legacy ribbons to graduating seniors who have had parents graduate from the school.