Frank Catchings Jr., the assistant principal at Burroughs Community School, is Minnesota's 2012 National Outstanding Assistant Principal, an honor bestowed by the state and national elementary school principals associations.

An assistant principal at Burroughs since 2005, Catchings created the school's extended-day program, which has boosted the performance of English language learner students on math and reading tests, and established the "Eagle Award" for teachers and "Caught in the Act" award system for students to honor people for their hard work. He also pressed staff to better understand the difficulties that homeless and high poverty students experience.

"I want students to know and understand that 'they are somebody,'" Catchings said.

I spoke to Catchings for a story in April about Burroughs' efforts to retain highly mobile students. Here's an excerpt:

Frank Catchings Jr.'s school bus isn't yellow.

It's a deep burgundy Ford Econoline 150 with plush gray interior and a dolphin-shaped air freshener dangling from the rearview mirror.

For students at Burroughs Community School in Minneapolis, the assistant principal's van is a dependable ride when they miss the bus, but it's also a symbol of the support they receive.

Burroughs students whose families move frequently outperform their peers on state and district tests, and school leaders think they know why: Once students enroll, the staff goes to great lengths to keep them in the neighborhood and in class daily.

Catchings has worked in the Minneapolis schools since 1993, including stints as a teacher and intern assistant principal at the former Benjamin Banneker School, intern assistant principal at Ramsey, assistant principal at Broadway, assistant principal at the former West Central Academy and assistant principal at Lucy Laney.