Keeneyville picks Loyola grad as new superintendent
Omar Castillo is having a darn good week.
As a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago, he is, of course, thrilled by the Ramblers' run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA basketball tournament.
He's also pretty psyched about his new job as superintendent of Keeneyville Elementary District 20.
The school board voted Thursday -- the very night Loyola was winning another 1-point game -- to hire the longtime school administrator and self-described "people person" to replace Michael Connolly, who is leaving June 30 to become superintendent of Wheeling Township Elementary District 21.
Castillo, who has spent the past five years as superintendent of Mokena School District 159, will begin work July 1 with a three-year contract that pays him $175,000 a year.
Castillo already has created a 90-day transition plan -- in both English and Spanish -- with monthly goals that focus on making connections, building relationships and learning about the needs of the district that serves roughly 1,500 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade from Bloomingdale, Hanover Park, Keeneyville and Roselle.
Castillo says he was attracted by the district's size and demographics, "because you can really get to know the parents, the students, the faculty and the community."
He said he will work closely with Connolly to ensure a smooth transition.
Connolly announced he was leaving in December and the board hired BWP and Associates to search for his replacement. The firm surveyed parents, staff members and community members and interviewed teachers and administrators before selecting six finalists from a pool of 52 applicants.
Officials said they conducted three rounds of interviews before choosing the new boss.
Castillo "exhibited the skills that were rated most important in our superintendent search survey: communication, leadership and interpersonal," board President Heather Weishaar said in a written statement. "His confidence, friendly demeanor and determination to work side-by-side with staff, parents and community members makes him an excellent addition to our team."
Castillo began his career as a math teacher in Chicago and later served as a middle school assistant principal and principal in Valley View Unit District 365. He also served as assistant superintendent of teaching and learning in Addison Elementary District 4.
He has a bachelor's degree in math from Loyola, master's degrees in education from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northern Illinois University, and a doctorate from Illinois State University in educational administration and foundations.
That Loyola connection has given him extra reason to smile this week. As he talks about the Ramblers, he also could be talking about his approaching time in District 20.
"It's very exciting," he said. "Let's hope they can keep on going."