District 15 fills two key administrative posts

Palatine Township Elementary District 15's incoming superintendent has mined her soon-to-be-former employer to find her top deputy and fill another significant position.

District 15 board members this week approved the hirings of Claire Kowalczyk as deputy superintendent and Stephanie Daly as principal of Virginia Lake Elementary School in Palatine. Both come from Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, the district currently led by incoming superintendent Laurie Heinz.

Heinz, who takes over in District 15 on July 1, recommended her District 64 colleagues for the two jobs.

Kowalczyk, who launched her career 22 years ago as a classroom and special-education teacher in District 15, has been principal of Franklin Elementary School in Park Ridge since 2016. Her resume also includes stints as a principal in North Shore School District 112 and Prospect Heights School District 23.

As deputy superintendent in a system with 20 schools and about 12,800 students, Kowalczyk said she will be Heinz's "right hand person." She'll also start her new job on July 1.

"Laurie and I have similar leadership styles," said Kowalczyk, whose starting salary will be $165,000. "And I am here to support her and to support our principals and our buildings in any way I can."

Kowalczyk will replace Matthew Barbini, who is departing as District 15's second-ranking administrator to become superintendent of Libertyville Elementary District 70. Barbini's duties have included supervising the technology, data application services and communications departments at District 15.

Heinz said Kowalczyk is the epitome of a lifelong learner. She said Kowalczyk emerged as the best choice from a large candidate pool and several rounds of interviews because of qualifications including a strong curriculum and instruction background, demonstrated building leadership and a willingness to boost her credentials in areas such as human resources.

"She's worked with me for the last three years," Heinz said, "and she really did turn around, quite a bit, Franklin School in just three short years' time because of the relationships that she built with staff and that extensive background that she brings to her leadership work. She's a true collaborator."

Daly will come to Virginia Lake in Palatine from Washington Elementary School in Park Ridge, which she's led for the past five years.

"I would say some of the things that I admire most about Mrs. Daly as a leader are the fact that she really has been very focused on implementing social, emotional learning practices at a very large elementary school," Heinz said.

Heinz has been working with Thompson and others in transitioning to District 15 as she finishes 2018-19 as boss of District 64. She began her administrative career as an assistant principal at Winston Campus in Palatine from 1998 to 2002.

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Laurie Heinz
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