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Two Kyrene Leaders Receive "Exemplary Principal" Award

Posted May 2021


The Office of the Maricopa County School Superintendent has announced that Renee Kory, Principal at Aprende Middle School and Kelley Brunner, Principal at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School are recipients of the “Exemplary Principal” Award.

Steve Watson, Maricopa County School Superintendent, is recognizing leaders who understand the connection between a thriving school culture and high levels of student achievement and teacher retention. These leaders intentionally and strategically nurture school environments where teacher and student voices set and realize the school's vision. They lead schools where students achieve academically and emotionally, and teachers are inspired to remain at the school and in the profession.

Award recipients undergo a rigorous evaluation that involves a superintendent nomination, application, teacher survey, video interview, site visit and extensive data review. Principal Kory and Principal Brunner were selected based on their ability to:

  • Actively engage staff, parents and community members in developing an effective school culture
  • Utilize data to guide instruction and decisions regarding staff development
  • Consistently demonstrate high teacher retention
  • Successfully develop and inspire others

“We could not be more proud of Kelley and Renee as they receive this award,” said Kyrene Superintendent Laura Toenjes. “They have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their schools and are highly respected by teachers, staff, parents and the community.” 

Superintendent Watson, who presented the awards on May 13, 2021, said of the Kyrene leaders:

"It is an honor to recognize Kelley Brunner as an Exemplary Principal. Kelley is a servant-leader who is passionately committed to the growth of her students and educators. She values teacher input and autonomy and has created an environment where teachers feel both supported and empowered."

"Renee Kory is a strong instructional leader who is relentless in her focus on equity and inclusion and on improving academic and social-emotional outcomes for all students. She cares passionately about her staff and students and is a strong advocate for her school community and the district."

Principals Brunner and Kory join the following Kyrene Principals who have received this award in the past: Tonya Yalung, 2017; Dr. Marianne Lescher, 2018; Dr. Ana Gomez del Castillo, 2019; and Nancy Branch, 2019.