Weather Updates

Meidel departing South Elgin High, joining Dist. U46 central office staff

South ElgHigh School Principal Meidel Melanie

South Elgin High School Principal Meidel Melanie

storyidforme: 39840683
tmspicid: 14740646
fileheaderid: 6725950

Updated: December 13, 2012 10:23AM

SOUTH ELGIN — South Elgin High School Principal Melanie Meidel is taking a new position at the end of the month — but she isn’t going far.

Meidel will become assistant superintendent of human resources for Elgin School District U46, she and U46 Superintendent Jose Torres announced in email messages earlier this month.

“I can’t say I am ready to leave — I did not have this on my radar — yet I can say I am ready to take on this huge challenge to benefit all schools,” Meidel wrote in her email to families at South Elgin High.

The cabinet-level position isn’t new, but it has had several names over the years, according to the district.

Most recently, Debbie Zelinski was chief human resources officer for U46. She was placed on paid administrative leave in February and resigned later last school year, according to the district.

Meidel said Friday the superintendent had approached her about the position.

Transitional help

After she starts the assistant superintendent position Nov. 26, she plans to continue to work at South Elgin High on Wednesdays and hopefully some other afternoons and evenings through the end of the school year, while a pair of retired U46 principals will help share day-to-day principal duties at the school during her transition, she said. They are Dave Smiley, the former principal of Elgin High School and already an interim dean at the school; and Sue Welu, former principal of Kenyon Woods Middle School in South Elgin, which many of the high school students attended, she said.

The school should not feel much different for students for the rest of the school year, she said, and the district will begin looking for her replacement in December.

“My role may be a bit different, but as always I will be working with and for you to help support student achievement,” Meidel wrote. “I am committed to seeing SEHS move into the future during this entire transition process.”

She has been principal of South Elgin High since 2008 and had been assistant principal when the school opened in 2005, according to Torres.

On Friday, she praised the parents and Booster Club for all they have been able to accomplish together while she has been at the school, including raising the money for the school’s own athletic stadium.

“I’m hoping maybe I can take that energy and that momentum and impact the whole district,” she said.

She had started her career in U46 as a physical and health education teacher at Elgin High School in 1996. She also has worked within the district as a teacher in the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Larkin High School and athletic director and division chairperson for physical education and driver’s education, according to the superintendent’s weekly message.

Meidel said she wouldn’t describe herself as a “human resources guru,” but she was more concerned about what she was leaving behind — “a tremendous, glorious place we built from the bottom up” — than what she will have to learn.

Leaving South Elgin High, she wrote in her email, “was an extremely difficult decision in so many ways that I can’t share in this brief note.”

“I love what I do, I love working with a group of people who enjoy coming to work every day and making a difference in students’ lives, I love watching students make a difference in our lives every day.”

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.