As Julie Bakehorn, IPS Arsenal Tech principal, sat at last year’s United Way Hubbard Life-Changing Educator Awards reception, her 11-year-old grandson held her hand. Both excited and nervous, they watched as outstanding IPS educators, including Julie, were awarded and videos of their inspiring stories played on the big screen.

Julie’s inspiring story began long before that awards night. “My favorite teacher was my junior high school P.E. teacher. She had returned to teaching after raising her kids, and she came in with new ideas,” Julie remembered. “Our new teacher was seasoned but energetic, and she rewrote the way classes were taught at our school. I knew that year I wanted to be a teacher.”

Then, after teaching for several years, Julie felt her passion and vision could be suited for school administration. “I entered this profession because I like to work with kids,” Julie began. “But the inequality in the way students receive services is why I stayed. I’ve spent my career fighting for the underdog and trying to help get students what they deserve, even when they don’t know what to fight for.”

Being a principal means a lot of things to Julie. She knows that to be successful she must be a visionary, a salesperson and, most of all, a relentless worker willing to put in more time than anyone else. Principals must make tough decisions. And, no one knows that more than Julie, as she turned two failing schools around by changing culture and raising expectations. “My philosophy is simple: If you want students to do well in the classroom, you need to get them involved in activities outside the classroom.”

Julie’s admirable work, glimmering reviews, and vision were the reasons she was nominated as a Hubbard Life-Changing Educator last year. They were also the reason, as she sat there holding her grandson’s hand, her name called as a winner. Her grandson squeezed her hand tightly and looked up at his grandma. “In that moment, I saw such excitement, respect and love in his eyes,” Julie mustered. “That meant more to me than anything.”

There are only a few days left to nominate an exceptional IPS educator for the Hubbard Awards – nominate by Feb. 3 at uwci.org/hubbard-education-award.