“As a child, going to college was never even a thought,” says Dr. Sherryl Moore-Ollie who grew up on the West side of Chicago in a single parent home with three other siblings. “It wasn’t until I met my high school counselor, Gail Williams, who exposed me to college campuses and academia, that I was inspired to want more out of life.”
Today, Dr. Moore-Ollie is a is principal of William Penn Elementary School, making headlines across the nation for her innovative approach to keep gangs and violence out of the lives of her students.
She began her path as an educator as a provisional substitute teacher in April of 1990 at William Penn in the same area of Chicago she grew up in. After teaching fourth and fifth grade students at the school for eight years, she was promoted to provide staff development to teachers in reading and writing while also teaching students in remediation. She later moved ahead to serve as assistant principal and, for the last four years, as principal of the school.
“My entire career has been at William Penn servicing the need s of students from a community I grew up in, a community that has a special place in my heart as do the children of William Penn Elementary,” she says.
Moore-Ollie is incredibly active in the community, taking part in groups like Grow Your Own Teachers, an organization that encourages parents and young adults to go back to school to become teachers in their own community. She is best known for her work with the initiative Boxing Out Negativity (B.O.N.) which began under her leadership at Penn school. Under the initiative, former gang leaders Derrick Brown and Chavez Fitzpatrick are giving back to the community they feel they helped destroy. The two now mentor elementary-aged boys to discourage them from becoming a part of a gang and the negative elements that they often encounter in their communities such as drugs and alcohol. B.O.N. teaches boys not only physical discipline through boxing but also mental discipline and strength. The program has been featured in the Chicago Tribune and on Dateline NBC.
She has been published in the Chicago Tribune and Catalyst Chicago and was selected by Congressman Danny Davis as one of the Most Outstanding Administrators in education.
Moore-Ollie received a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana and holds Master of Education degrees in Elementary Education and Administration and Supervision from Roosevelt University. She earned her Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Argosy University, Chicago in 2010.
“Argosy University gave me the tools needed to be a great researcher. It has taught me to ask the question why and then to look for the answers. As a result I am a better educator and a better administrator,” she says.