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Article posted: 6/6/2013 5:27 PM

Ex-board member hired to lead Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake

Geoff Deigan

Geoff Deigan

 
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An environmental company founder who's a former board member at Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake has been tabbed as its new executive director.

Geoff Deigan, president and chief executive officer of WRD Environmental in Chicago, will take over for Nigel Whittington, who announced his resignation in December and officially departs Tuesday.

Prairie Crossing is an environmentally focused choice school the state opened in 1999 to serve kindergarten through eighth grade. Board President Steve Achtemeier said Deigan bested more than 40 candidates who applied to lead the charter school in what will be a part-time executive director position.

Achtemeier said Prairie Crossing has enough capable administrators to handle day-to-day duties, so it won't be necessary for Deigan to have a constant presence at the school. He said Deigan's attributes include managerial excellence, connections with the local environmental community and in-depth knowledge about Prairie Crossing from serving two terms on the school board as a member and 2 years as president.

"It just came down to trying to pick the best fit for the school," Achtemeier said Thursday.

Achtemeier said officials plan to meet Friday with Deigan to finalize an agreement, including salary. Deigan could not be reached for comment.

Whittington made his resignation public in an email to the Grayslake school's parents and others. He became executive director in July 2010. Born in England, Whittington was finishing his master's degree in educational administration at University of Idaho when Prairie Crossing hired him. He was deputy head of school at Island Academy in Antigua, West Indies, in the 2008-09 academic year.

Whittington said while he'll miss many aspects of Prairie Crossing, he has few regrets about leaving because the trade-off will be more time with his family.

"I continue to believe this school is a treasure and the staff work hard to provide an outstanding education in an innovative way," Whittington said in a recent report to school board members.

As for Deigan, his WRD Environmental won a GreenWorks Award in 2008 from former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. WRD, founded by Deigan in 1997, was recognized for the Michigan Avenue Fish Hotel.

WRD created the floating fish habitat for the nonprofit Friends of the Chicago River.

Parents in Woodland Elementary District 50 and Fremont Elementary District 79 may send their children at no extra cost to the 392-student-capacity Prairie Crossing, which determines enrollment by lottery.

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