Dr. Karen Sullivan addresses the Indian Prairie District 204 board shortly after she was approved as new superindent at a recent meeting. (News Bulletin photo)
Sullivan named chief in District 204
The Indian Prairie School District 204 Board of Education has named Dr. Karen Sullivan as the next Superintendent of Schools.
Sullivan is a familiar face in District 204, with 18 years of experience in the areas of special education, human resources, and leading schools. Since 2011, she has served as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.
In her current role, she has established a strong working relationship with the associations that represent the teaching and clerical staff. As lead negotiator, she has successfully negotiated contracts with both groups.
She also served as the first Principal of Prairie Children Preschool and Principal of Cowlishaw Elementary School, as well as Director of Student Services.
While at Cowlishaw Elementary School, she increased overall student achievement by 12 to 15 percent and narrowed the achievement gap at a school with a growing diverse student population.
Sullivan also gained experience working in Elmhurst Community School District 205, where she served as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.
While there, she implemented an intervention system used to better support students with special needs. She also facilitated the incorporation of Common Core State Standards into the district’s curriculum.
Sullivan began her career in 1981 as a Speech/Language Pathologist in the Flossmoor-based South Metropolitan Association, a special education cooperative that provided services to south suburban school districts.
She went on to lead the group’s parent/infant program and later was named the Director of Grants and Special Projects.
The Board of Education conducted a national search with the assistance of Iowa-based Ray and Associates, Inc. to select its next superintendent.
Board President Lori Price said the national search was an important part of the process.
“Although we had an internal candidate, we wanted to make sure we measured that candidate against top-notch school leaders from around the country,” Price said. “Through that process, we found Dr. Sullivan continued to rise to the top. We are giving the community an outstanding superintendent.”
Sullivan received her doctoral degree from Lewis University. From the University of Illinois, she earned a Master of Science in Speech/Language Pathology and a Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Science.
Rodriguez takes over in East Aurora
The East Aurora School District 131 Board of Education has selected Jesse J. Rodriguez, an educational leader in Milwaukee, to be the District’s next superintendent.
Rodriguez, 39, was approved in a unanimous vote at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. Rodriguez is currently the Regional Superintendent for the Milwaukee Public School District.
“I am excited by the incredible potential of the East Aurora students and staff. I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to join the team and know that together we will add value to existing educational opportunities for our children,” Rodriguez said. “As I toured the different schools last week, it was obvious that this will be a great place to live and work. I am drawn to the challenge and I feel fortunate to be coming into a district that has made so much progress in the last few years. I can’t wait to start working with this staff to keep our students moving forward.”
The Board of Education selected Rodriguez after a nationwide search that attracted more than 250 applicants, some from as far away as Alaska.
“We were inspired by Jesse Rodriguez’s story and we were convinced by his results,” said East Aurora School District 131 Board President Annette Johnson. “Jesse Rodriguez is the person who can help East Aurora School District 131 continue to grow and reach greater heights. We’re thrilled to have him join our excellent team and we can’t wait for the community to meet him.”
Rodriguez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He moved to Milwaukee when he was 14 years old. When he came to Wisconsin, Rodriguez spoke only Spanish. He learned English in a Bilingual Developmental Program in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Even at that young age, he knew he wanted to work in education. In high school, he was part of the superintendent’s roundtable, where he represented the voices of the student body.
He enrolled at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., where he majored in history and Spanish, with a minor in secondary education. Rodriguez took a job teaching Spanish at Rufus King International Baccalaureate High School in Milwaukee.
He was a classroom teacher from 1997 to 2001, until he was promoted to assistant principal at Audubon Technology and Communication Center, a middle school in Milwaukee. In 2004, he was promoted to principal, where he served at a campus centered on middle and high school instruction with a professional development component.
In 2008, he became Vice President for Education for La Causa, Inc., where he was oversaw instructional, operational, and administrative functions of a district-sponsored Charter School.
In 2011, Rodriguez became the Milwaukee Public School District Regional Director for School Support. This led him to be named Regional Superintendent for Southwest Region, where he is responsible for the effective operations of more than 30 schools and managed a budget of more than $250 million.
The Milwaukee Public School District is Wisconsin’s largest district with more than 165 schools, more than 78,000 students, and approximately 9,500 staff members.
In Milwaukee, Rodriguez became known for establishing clear performance standards in an inclusive environment that showed significant positive results for schools.
–News Bulletin news sources