Dr. Darrell Echols, honored as 2018 African-American Leader of the Year, has dedicated his life to serving the community as an educator and a force for good. Giving up a successful acting career (which included the likes of SNL and The Cosby Show) in favor of being a full-time teacher, Echols was first a substitute teacher, then an English teacher, then a Waubonsie Valley dean, and finally, Metea Valley’s second-ever principal. During his tenure, Metea has received all kinds of recognition, ranging from being included in US News and World Report’s “Best High Schools in America” and Chicago Magazine’s “Best High Schools in DuPage County” to a Grammy for the school’s music program. After having helped set up numerous community events within Metea Valley with the Aurora Police Department, he had the opportunity to meet Fred Greenwood at one of them, and they recognized the value of community outreach at the high school level. Recognized formally by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin for his achievements in education, Echols oversees the students who will go on to make up the next generation of Aurora and Naperville residents.