ROCKTON - "You touched my soul."
That's what Hononegah Principal Eric Flohr said upon being named the 14th Annual Puri Family Outstanding Principal by the Golden Apple Foundation.
He was surprised with a gym full of students and staff awaiting him Friday morning with the big news.
In a later interview Flohr said he thought he was giving a TV news team a tour of the school when he heard some rumblings in the gymnasium.
Although he arrived in a blazer, he quickly changed into his trademark purple jacket. Flohr told the crowd he may be a bit of a teacher, but he always learned more from his staff and students.
Superintendent Michael Dugan said Flohr's enthusiasm and love of students is positively contagious, inspiring and motivating for the staff.
"He continually shares his vision, purpose and plan with others in order to create an impact on our school," Dugan said.
Flohr was greeted at the event by his wife Carol Flohr and 8-year-old daughter Erica Flohr. Eric Flohr, who gave his daughter a big hug, said it was a great day for the family as it was his wedding anniversary as well.
According to the Golden Apple Foundation, Flohr was an Eagle Scout, a high school science teacher (1988-1996) and a principal (1995-2019). He solidified the school values of community and collaboration. He celebrates staff's hard work and accomplishments as well as those of students - artistic, athletic and academic. At games, the outgoing Hononegah fan visibly embodies school spirit in a bright purple Hononegah blazer and spirit socks. Students rush to share achievement news with Flohr, knowing the pride and joy he'll express. Parents say when Flohr presents student awards, he boasts as if they were his own children.
Golden Apple Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Stark said a teacher nominated him for the honor.
Flohr, who retires this year after five years at Hononegah and 31 years in the education field, will be recognized at the 23rd Annual Excellence in Education Banquet on April 26, at Giovanni's in Rockford. For reservations, call 815-226-4180 or see goldenappleofrockford.com.
Eric Flohr will receive $1,500 to be used in his school and $250 in Volcano Falls gift certificates to reward students, compliments of the Puri Family.