CHICAGO (WLS) --Principal Dana Butler of Irma Ruiz Elementary School won the prestigious Golden Apple Leadership Award, but he had no idea until a surprise assembly Friday.
As students exploded with excitement, Principal Dana Butler walked into the gym and stood, stunned, even speechless as they chanted his name.
He had no idea until that very moment that he had won the award, so when he approached the microphone... he started singing.
Butler spreads sunshine and a positive attitude while leading this school serving Pilsen and Little Village, a school where 92 percent of the students are low-income, and nearly 30 percent are learning to speak English.
"Nothing I have ever had or had the experience for could not be possible if it weren't for all of you, and all of you, and all of you," he told the crowd.
The Golden Apple Awards were are named after Stanley C. Golder, whose daughter presented the award.
"I know my father is looking down and he, too, would be extremely proud of your leader. Congratulations Mr. Butler," said Nancy Northrup in her presentation of the award.
As a true leader, Butler thanked those around him as he carried a special picture of his family in his pocket.
The recognition rendered the typically gregarious teacher unusually speechless.
"I'm just awed, I just have nothing to say, and people who know who much I talk - that means plenty," he said.
This is the third year for the leadership award. All recipients, including Butler, are nominated by colleagues, students and community members.
As part of the honor, Butler will also receive $10,000 for his own professional development.
The school is named for Irma Ruiz, a Chicago police officer, who died in the line of duty while protecting schoolchildren in 1988.