Two New Heads of Jerling Coming from Outside D135
The Orland School District 135 Board of Education still has to make the final call, but if they agree with the administrators’ recommendations, Jerling will see fresh faces at the helm in the fall.
At the June 11 school board meeting, David Kennedy was hired as Jerling’s new assistant principal, after Ann Marie Riordan was moved to Liberty School. But when Jerling Principal Pam Hodgson took a job with Summit Hill Junior High in Frankfort, the Jerling head seat needed filling.
“David’s background in administration in junior high and high school is pretty significant and he’s somebody who could be moved up into the position, so when Pam said she’s leaving we decided to move David Kennedy up to be the principal,” D135 Interim Superintendent Dennis Soustek said Monday. “I think it’s going to be a very good thing for Jerling.”
Soustek also informed parents, gathered at the district’s administration building for Monday’s CARE135 meeting, who will take the now-open Jerling assistant principal position.
“When you go through a lot of interviews you see people who might be a better fit for one job if it opens,” Soustek said. “That came up when we interviewed Jennifer Nichols. She is one, again, with strong administrative experience. She works for Conrady (Junior High) in (North Palos) School District 117. She worked as a dean and on a lot of curriculum too with the assistant principal and principal.”
Soustek noted that neither Kennedy nor Nichols are related to any members of the school board.
Laura Wagner, whose children attend D135 schools, asked if the two would be able to handle what may have contributed to Hodgson’s departure, such as disagreements with teachers.
“As a parent I appreciated Pam Hodgson very much,” Wagner said.
Soustek said that early conversations with teachers and union reps since they recommended Kennedy for principal and Nichols for assistant principal have been positive. Wagner also noted she heard positive things about Nichols as well.
“Neither of these two are brand new administrators so it’s not like they are going to be walking in going ‘gee whiz what do I do? How do I start the school year?’” Soustek said. “Ann Marie Riordan is not going to be far away. She’s going to be over at Liberty. She served a year as assistant principal knows the staff, students and families.”
Soustek also said plenty of other administrators have said they will be available to help with the transition.
Centennial School is also without a principal after Lynn Zeder was moved to the district’s curriculum department as assistant director of curriculum.
Soustek said Monday that the pool of applicants for Centennial’s principal slot has been narrowed down to three.
“I can’t give you a name because we haven’t made the decision yet,” Soustek said about the Centennial principal candidate. “That’ll be on the July 9 agenda.”
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