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District 230 Names New Principal for Sandburg High School

District administrators hired from within its family of current administrators, teachers and alumni.

Deb Baker. Photo provided.
Deb Baker. Photo provided.

Consolidated High School District 230 promoted from within its district family to fill leadership roles at Sandburg and Stagg high schools.

Stagg High School Associate Principal Deb Baker will become Principal of Sandburg High School, after current Principal Dr. Julia Wheaton was named Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources. Jennifer Tyrrell, chair of Stagg's physical education, health and drivers education divisions, will take over Baker's role. Derrick Smith, chair of Sandburg's English and music division, will become associate principal at Sandburg.

The board signed off on the staffing changes at a meeting Thursday at Stagg High School

Baker rejoins the Sandburg community, where she was previously an English teacher as well as chair of the English and music division. She has also been assistant principal at Andrew High School and associate principal at Stagg. 

"She is a strong leader who will continue to focus on student achievement while supporting the Sandburg community," said School Board President Rick Nogal. "A veteran administrator who has served each of District 230’s campus, she is passionate about the success of each student.”

Stagg Principal Eric Olsen expressed his appreciation of working with Baker, who has also taught at Chicago Public Schools and the DeLaSalle Institute in Chicago.  She holds a Master of Arts in Educational Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in the Teaching of English, both from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  

"It has been a pleasure to work with Deb over the past several years,” said Stagg High School Principal Eric Olsen. ”Her leadership, intelligence, wit, and work ethic will be greatly missed at the building, however, we are very excited to work with her in her new capacity as the educational leader at our sister school.” 

Sandburg alum Smith will work alongside Baker in Sandburg's administration as associate principal. He will fill a vacancy left by Trish Gilkas, who will retire after 31 years at the school. He is Sandburg's Division Chair for English and Music, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in literacy, language and culture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the past, he has also served as supervisor for the school's newspaper group, and as coach of the freshman baseball team. He holds a master's degree in educational organization and leadership and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree in secondary education from St. Xavier University.

"Derrick demonstrates exceptional knowledge, training and skills in the areas of curriculum, instruction and leadership,” said Sandburg Principal Dr. Julia Wheaton. "He consistently demonstrates with students, staff and parents a strong ethical and professional code, maintenance of high expectations for himself and others and commitment to the collaborative decision-making process."

Stagg alumna Tyrrell who will take over for Baker as associate principal at the school, where she has worked since 2005. 

"Jen's experience in literacy training, data analysis and curriculum will be invaluable to the school and the district," said Stagg principal Eric Olsen, calling her a "tremendous leader."

She earned a master's degree in kinesiology-sports management and a bachelor's degree in physical education from Western Illinois University. She also holds a certificate in educational leadership from Lewis University and is pursuing a doctorate in educational administration and supervision from Loyola University, district officials said.

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