Congratulations to these alumni who are making a positive impact on the leadership and administration of education at all levels!
Jim Aalfs, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’00, will become principal of Barrington Middle School-Station Campus in Barrington 220. He has served as the principal of Hough Street School for the past seven years and previously worked at BMS-Station as an assistant principal.
David Ballard, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’97, is the new executive director of Secondary Education in East Aurora School District 131. Ballard, who has 12 years of experience in supervising curriculum and instruction programs, joined District 131 in 2013 and has served there as principal of Fred Rodgers Magnet Academy and Johnson Elementary School.
Sheila Conrad, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’02, is the new principal of Krug Elementary School in East Aurora School District 131. Conrad, who has worked in District 131 for 18 years, previously served as teacher, assistant principal and principal of East High School.
Stephanie Drake, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’95, begins July 1 as the new principal of Washington Early Learning Center in Mundelein Elementary District 75. Drake comes to Mundelein following a 29-year career in West Chicago Elementary School District 33, where she began as a bilingual teacher for kindergarten through sixth grade. She previously served for five years as principal at Gary Elementary School, a two-way dual language school.
Carolyn Heller, B.S.Ed. Special Education, ’78, retired Feb. 29 after a 42-year career in education. Heller most recently served as principal of Newport Middle School in Newport, N.C., a job she held since August 2018. She previously served 11 years as principal of West Carteret School, where she also was the assistant principal for four years and worked as an exceptional children’s teacher.
Kathleen Kiernan, Ed.D. Adult Continuing Education, ’03, was tapped by American Security Today to conduct an online conversation with New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell to discuss Criswell’s experience and perspectives on the future of emergency management. Kiernan is the founder and CEO of Kiernan Group Holdings, a risk-management firm which provides state-of practice preparedness and resiliency services.
Sam Kurtz, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’13, has been named principal of Maple School in Northbrook, where he previously taught sixth-grade science for seven years at the beginning of his career in education. Kurtz left Maple in 2016 to become assistant principal of Shepard Middle School in Deerfield. In 2018, he was named principal of Edgewood Middle School in Highland Park.
Sarah Lager, M.S.Ed. School Business Management, ’18, starts July 1 as director of Fiscal Services and Asset Management for Barrington 220. She comes to Barrington from the Cooperative Association of Special Education, where she served as the director of Fiscal Services/Chief School Business Official
Scott McDermott, B.S.Ed. Special Education, ’93, will become principal of Wheaton Warrenville South High School this fall. McDermott previously served as associate principal for Instruction and head of the Special Education Division at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, where has worked since 2009. Prior to that, he spent 15 years at Glenbrook South High School, where he taught special education and served as assistant dean.
Matt McDonald, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’09, has been named principal of Westfield Elementary School in Glen Ellyn-based Community Consolidated School District 89. McDonald started his career at Partners for Success, a DuPage County alternative school. He previously taught science and math for eight years at Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn and, for the past nine years, served as assistant principal of Marquardt Middle School in Glendale Heights.
Andria Mitchell, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’08, was named principal of Ranch View Elementary in Naperville Unit District 203. She previously served as principal of Tyler Elementary School and Gwendolyn Brooks Elementary School in DeKalb. Prior to her career in administration, she taught elementary education and special education.
Ronald O’Connor, M.S.Ed. School Business Management, ’11, and M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’08, will begin a new job July 1 as Chief School Business Official of Elk Grove Township Elementary School District 59. O’Connor comes from Morton School District 201 in Cicero, where he has served as chief financial officer and treasurer since 2016. He previously worked as business manager and assistant superintendent for Human Resources for North Chicago School District 187.
Jennifer Schemidt, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’16, has been named principal of Beye Elementary School in Oak Park Elementary School District 97. She comes to Beye from Maplebrook Elementary School in Naperville District 203, where she has served as an assistant principal for three years, as the district’s director of Extended School Year Services and, for 11 years, as a school psychologist.
Gregory W. Watchinski, M.S.Ed. Educational Administration, ’00, begins July 1 as principal of Rocky Creek Elementary School in Lexington, S.C. He previously served as principal and assistant principal of Carolina Springs Elementary School in Lexington District One, where has worked since 2007. Prior to his move to South Carolina, he taught elementary school and served as Student Services coordinator in Aurora, Ill.