BROOKSVILLE — For just a year and a half, Steve Crognale has been the principal at the Endeavor and Discovery Academies.
But now, he's been named the Hernando School District Principal of the Year for 2018.
Endeavor serves students, most of them high school age, who have severe behavior problems. Discovery serves middle school students who have fallen behind academically.
"Our goal is to promote students in both academies to get them back to their zoned schools," Crognale, 51, said.
Earlier this school year, the district invited teachers, staff, students and community members to nominate principals for the award. The suggested criteria included someone who spearheads initiatives to increase student achievement, promotes a safe learning environment and establishes relationships with parents and community members.
Ten principals were nominated, and were evaluated by deputy superintendent Heather Martin and district staff Karen Jordan, Gina Michalicka, Sean Arnold and John Stratton.
Michalicka called Crognale to congratulate him after they made their selection. "It was humbling," Crognale said. "I have a lot of respect for my colleagues."
He credited the personnel at his academies. "I've got a great staff here," he said. "I always think if you have a strong staff around you, it does help."
Crognale began with the district in 1989 as a physical education teacher at West Hernando Middle School. A year later he moved to Central High School. For the next 15 years there he taught, coached and worked on his masters degree in education leadership.
He joined Springstead High in 2005 as an assistant principal, and in 2013 he returned to Central High in the same capacity. He was hired for his current position for the 2016-2017 school year.
As an assistant principal and football coach, Crognale has experience with disciplining students. At Central, along with teaching physical education and coaching, he has also worked with in-school suspension students.
Of his time at Endeavor and Discovery, he said, "I thought it would be someplace where I would start. Helping these kids, I do enjoy that. Helping them be successful is important to me. My background in coaching helps."
Crognale said it was particularly meaningful when Ed LaRose, one of his former football players who's now an assistant principal at Springstead High, spoke on his behalf.
For his designation as Principal of the Year 2018, Crognale received a plaque and recognition at both a school board meeting and a principals' meeting.
"I was honored that they thought I could do the job," he said.