Tioga School in Bensenville will now have two co-principals, after David Rojas was named Friday to one of the two posts.
The move adds to a series of major shifts in Bensenville Elementary District 2, where neighboring Chippewa School with merge with Tioga next fall, and Mohawk and Johnson schools will merge shortly thereafter.
Rojas will share administrative duties with current Chippewa Principal Nicole Robinson when the schools merge.
"I am very excited," said Rojas. "I've really gotten to know the staff, students and families and am looking forward to working with them. I also enjoy the diverse makeup of our community, being Hispanic and being a second-language learner myself, this is something very close to my heart."
Kay Dugan, District 2 assistant superintendent for learning, said having two principals fits well with 21st Century Learning, a curriculum change that focuses on critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration skills. This connects to Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by 45 states including Illinois. Common Core focuses on making students college and career ready by the time they graduate high school.
"The notion that leadership resides in one person isn't realistic," Dugan said in an email. "The co-principal model shifts the center-of-power mindset to one of shared leadership following the tenets of 21st Century Learning."
Rojas is no stranger to Tioga. Earlier in his career, he spent three years there as an English as a Second Language and bilingual teacher. He went on to become assistant principal at Hermes School in Aurora for the next three years. In 2010, he returned to District 2 and became its English Language Learners coordinator.
He also served as interim principal at Tioga this past fall and will serve as interim principal at Chippewa when Robinson takes a personal leave of absence.
"I have had the opportunity to see some of my very first students graduate, and see former kindergartners finish fifth grade," Rojas said. "It is surreal to a certain point."
Rojas holds a bachelor's degree from Moody Bible Institute, a master's degree in urban teaching from Columbia College and a master's degree in educational leadership from Olivet Nazarene University.
Tioga School, 212 W. Memorial Road, will serve roughly 760 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade when it opens Aug. 22 with a new $23 million addition. Chippewa, 322 S. York Road, will closed at the end of the school year and demolished in the fall. Johnson School is in line for a $24 million expansion that will be complete in August, and students will merge there from Mohawk later this fall.