New faces called to the principal’s office this school year
By Emily McFarlan email@example.com July 31, 2012 7:08PM
Kenyon Woods Middle School principal Mike Demovsky (left) listens as summer school principal Lisa Miller talks about a student's progress on Thursday, July 26, 2012, at the South Elgin middle school. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 2, 2012 6:04AM
SOUTH ELGIN — Kenyon Woods Middle School Principal Mike Demovsky was at a conference in Indianapolis recently about a program aimed at helping students get into college.
Demovsky has a little bit of experience with the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program at the high school level. Its slogan, “Decades of college dreams,” fits well with Kenyon Woods, he said.
“We want students to ‘dream big.’ That’s what they say every day: ‘We are Kenyon Woods, and we dream big,’ ” he said.
He was back at the middle school in South Elgin the next day, Demovsky said, “really working with students and their schedules” — as he has all summer.
“I’ve gotten to know every name of every student already without having met them,” he said.
There’s a lot to be done before the start of the new school year in a few weeks — especially for Demovsky, one of 11 new principals who will head up schools this year in area school districts.
That’s eight new principals in Elgin School District U46, three in Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300, and two in Burlington-based Central Community Unit School District 301.
“There really is no average amount of turnover among principals from year to year,” said Allison Strupeck, spokeswoman for District 300.
Those aren’t remarkable numbers among the 53 schools in U46, 27 in District 300 and seven in District 301.
They are similar to last year when U46 welcomed six new principals at the start of the year and District 300 welcomed four. Greg Rabenhorst, assistant superintendent of District 301, said he did not think there were any new principals in his district last year.
For those principals, the numbers mean “getting to know a new staff and students and all their names and all those things with building relationships,” said Craig Zieleniewski, who has moved from Perry Elementary in Carpentersville to Gilberts Elementary School.
“I just loved the kids, loved the parents, loved the staff (at Perry),” Zieleniewski said. “I had such a close relationship with the staff, I used to joke I could just look at people and know what they were going to say. The teachers figured out me, too — the little quirks, if I said, ‘Maybe,’ it usually means, ‘No,’ all the little things I’ll need to learn about the staff (at Gilberts), and they’ll learn about me, too.”
Demovsky moved within U46, from assistant principal at Streamwood High School to Kenyon Woods in South Elgin, after former Principal Sue Welu, who had opened the middle school in 2004, retired this summer.
“People say, ‘You just went because it’s a beautiful school.’ It’s not the bricks and mortar that make a school,” he said.
It’s the staff, the students and their parents who make Kenyon Woods — and who have impressed him during his six years at Streamwood, he said. The school already has a positive culture, he said, and he can’t wait to contribute to that with the PBIS (Positive Behaviors and Interventions Supports) initiatives he helped start last year at Streamwood.
Lorie Fuller also moved within the Elgin district, from assistant principal of South Elgin High School to principal of Larsen Middle School in Elgin.
New hires within the district include Joanna Sharp, who joins U46 as principal of Creekside Elementary School in Elgin.
Sharp was the “turn-around” principal at Dolton West No. 148 in Riverdale and has previous experience as a director of instructional services and high school assistant principal and teacher, according to the Elgin district. She received her bachelor’s degree from Kansas Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in education and curriculum from Rockford College.
Lisa Bergbreiter comes to Independence Center for Early Learning in Bartlett from Belvidere School District 100, where she was special education supervisor. Bergbreiter received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and master’s degree in educational leadership from Aurora University, U46 said.
And Jason Franzke comes to Willard Elementary School in South Elgin from Chicago Public Schools, where he has been an assistant principal and teacher, it said. Franzke received his bachelor’s degree from Emory University and master’s degrees in Italian language and literature from Columbia University in New York, education from Queens College in New York and educational leadership from American College of Education in Chicago.
Other new hires include Althea Hammond, Trisha Shrode and Juan Lira, all of Chicago Public Schools.
Hammond comes to Century Oaks Elementary School in Elgin from the Brian Piccolo Specialty School in Chicago, according to U46.
Shrode and Lira both come to U46 from Lafayette Elementary School in Chicago, where Shrode was principal and Lira, assistant principal, the Elgin district said. Shrode now is principal of Oakhill Elementary School in Streamwood and Lira, principal of McKinley Elementary School in Elgin.
Zieleniewski comes to Gilberts after six years as principal at Perry. He has had been at Perry at total of eight years, with 16 total years with District 300. When the position opened up, he said, “What excited me was the challenge of working with a new staff and a new group of students. I was looking for a change.”
The principal earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and master’s from Aurora University, according to the district. He began his career as an educator in 1997 as a sixth-grade teacher at Westfield Community School in Algonquin before becoming assistant principal at Perry in 2004.
“I enjoy being in District 300. I don’t ever see myself working in another district,” he said.
Leo Ortiz has taken Zieleniewski’s place at Perry. Ortiz comes to the district from Barbour Language Academy in Rockford, where he was assistant principal, according to the district.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Carthage College in Wisconsin and his master’s from National Louis University.
Also in District 300, Kurt Rohlwing has become principal of Hampshire Middle School. Previously, Rohlwing was assistant principal at Marlowe Middle School in Huntley Consolidated School District 158, according to the Carpentersville-area district.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in River Forest and a master’s from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and he expects to complete a Chief School Business Official Certification Program this summer at Northern Illinois.
When Jeff King accepted the principal position at Country Trails Elementary School in Elgin, part of District 301, it cleared the way for Zieleniewski to become principal of Gilberts.
District 301 also will welcome Rebecca Jurs as principal of Lily Lake Grade School. Jurs also is a new hire to the district, according to the assistant superintendent.