Administrative changes are continuing in Bensenville Elementary District 2, as the district moves to upgrade its curriculum and streamline its schools.
This week, officials said Blackhawk Middle School will be led by two co-principals in the 2013-14 school year, following the model announced late last month for Tioga School.
Kay Dugan, assistant superintendent for learning, recently said having two principals at each school fits well with 21st Century Learning, a curriculum change that focuses on critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration skills. The move also 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 change at Blackhawk adds to a series of major shifts in District 2, where neighboring Chippewa School will merge into Tioga School next fall, and Mohawk and Johnson schools will merge shortly thereafter. Blackhawk will remain as it is.
While officials said next school year will be dedicated to transition at Blackhawk, the following year two current assistant principals will share leadership: Perry Finch, who was assistant principal for three years, will become principal. And Sarah Humboldt, who was assistant principal for two years and worked at Blackhawk for seven years, will become associate principal.
During the transition next year, the district also will fill a 10-month assistant principal position.
Current Principal Bob Pape will leave his post June 30 to take a position at Oak Park Elementary School in Aurora, part of East Aurora District 131.
Humboldt has spent her career at Blackhawk, joining the staff in 2005 as a math teacher. She was appointed assistant principal in the last school year. She holds a master's degree in educational leadership from DePaul University.
Humboldt said the many changes in District 2 are happening quickly, "but in a good way."
"The district is going above and beyond to develop great curriculum activities that are leading the way," she said, adding that other districts have contacted District 2 asking to observe how it's updating its teaching methods.
Humboldt also said the co-principal model is an improvement.
"With the demands put on leadership in education, it definitely requires that shared leadership," she said. "It's hard for one person to implement and see through some of the new ideas that will be brought about, to collaborate and to bounce ideas off each other. I also think it allows us to provide more support to teachers."
Finch worked at Clemente High School in Chicago for six years, serving as dean of students for two years before joining the Blackhawk staff in 2007 as a behavior interventionist. He has been assistant principal since 2009 and holds a master's degree in special education from Northeastern Illinois University and a master's degree in general administration from Dominican University.
Finch echoed Humboldt, saying the co-principal model will make the entire school more effective. But he also said the Blackhawk staff has worked hard on another element, safety, to make sure learning is optimized.
"We have worked hard to make this a safe, welcoming place for kids and teachers every day and that's an important thing to maintain and improve upon," Finch said. "Because if they are feeling safe and comfortable, then the learning and teaching happens naturally."