Four years teaching seventh-grade science. Two years teaching math. Two years serving as assistant principal. Seven years in charge as principal.
What the three-time NIU College of Education alum had yet to undertake, however, was a role with influence beyond Clinton Rosette.
That changed July 1, 2019, when Vincent assumed his current position as assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in District 428.
“I was intrigued by the job initially because my Ed.S. degree from Northern widened my lens. This is something more comprehensive and district-wide,” says Vincent, a native of Galena.
“By spending 15 years in one particular school, the real benefit is gaining an intimate knowledge of the families, the students, the teachers – I hired most of the staff – and you gain a really unique perspective into people’s lives that way,” he adds. “But there are other things in the district that I felt like I could have input in, or influence on, in a good way.”
Responsibilities include planning professional development for staff members, organizing mentoring programs, evaluating program effectiveness and, he says, making sure that all District 428 employees feel “valued, respected and celebrated.”
He oversees curriculum development and implementation at all levels, something that “touches every student in the district,” along with kindergarten registration.
Employees under his management include the coordinators of elementary and secondary curriculum, bilingual education and assessment, as well as the district’s instructional coaches.
Vincent also supports building principals “in any way they need,” and commits himself to visiting every local school within every two-week period.
Those are the best times, he says, as they not only return him to his roots but also provide the opportunity a first-hand look at how policy affects practice.
“I can maintain a constant connection to the curriculum,” he says. “There’s no substitute for actually seeing it action and seeing all the great things going on in our schools.”
He tries to schedule his trips around arrival, lunch or dismissal if his calendar allows.
“I do pride myself on still being connected to the students, and it’s nice to interact with students in that way, and with the staff who are supervising them,” he says. “I’m trying to maintain visibility in all of our schools, and I’m really focused on making sure I’m checking in with them.”
At this point, though, the former NIU Huskie offensive tackle and short-term free agent with the Chicago Bears remains an unfamiliar face for most – and his towering athletic stature is providing him with some happy moments.
“When I walk into schools and classrooms right now, outside of Clinton Rosette,” he says, “the biggest comment I get is, ‘You’re tall!’ ”
He also earned NIU’s Chief School Business Official license, a three-year process during which he gained “an in-depth understanding of district-level finance, district-level leadership and human resources.”
NIU’s preparation of principals and superintendents provided Vincent with “great perspective” on those roles and the leadership theories involved, lessons he’s putting to good use in his daily work.
“The biggest piece is the constant reflection, the listening and hearing of other people’s viewpoints,” Vincent says. “Expanding my horizons, and learning more about district-level leadership, really was the goal – and, so far, it’s really been what I was hoping for. I’m asking a lot of questions right now.”