Elgin community mourns unexpected death of U-46 administrator Ron Raglin
An impassioned advocate for students, Elgin Area School District U-46 administrator Ronald Raglin died unexpectedly Monday from a heart attack.
Raglin, 58, of Elgin, was U-46's assistant superintendent of educational support programs and alignment and received the city of Elgin's 2019 Dr. King Humanitarian Award earlier this year.
He was known as a champion of educational equity who helped strengthen ties to community partners to promote student success, according to district officials.
"Our hearts are all broken," U-46 spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.
Raglin's family released a brief statement explaining the circumstances of his unexpected death.
"Ron underwent a successful surgery on Friday, and he was healing and progressing well," the statement said. "However, he suffered a sudden cardiac episode on Monday and could not be revived. We are deeply saddened by our loss. We covet your prayers as we grieve Ron's passing."
Raglin grew up on Chicago's South Side. His best friend at the time was Arne Duncan, who later became U.S. Secretary of Education under former President Barack Obama. He taught and coached in California for 18 years before moving back to Chicago in 2002 to help then-CEO Duncan with the administration of Chicago Public Schools. He moved to Elgin after joining U-46 more than seven years ago.
"He is, and always will be, my friend and your friend," U-46 CEO Tony Sanders wrote in a message to staff Monday night. "Now is not the time to remind you of Ron's biography. I'd rather remind you of his exceptional heart. ... His love of this district and all our beautiful learners. His passion for ensuring that 'All Means All' is not just three words, but a calling that we strive for every day. ... He modeled the importance of connections, and that is why we will feel his loss so deeply."
Raglin called working for U-46 his "dream job." He oversaw college readiness programs, promoted equity and mentoring initiatives and worked with the Alignment Collaborative for Education, or ACES, which aims to raise student achievement, create productive members of society and advance economic and social well-being.
Sanders said he was part of the administrative team that brought Raglin to U-46.
"He's a good guy," Sanders said, choking back tears. "Ron was the biggest cheerleader for public education and for U-46. He gave us his all."
During his time with U-46, Raglin started out working on equity and social justice, then oversaw all middle and high schools. He served on the ACE governing board playing a key role in rolling out the district's alignment initiatives.
Raglin transformed what began as a clergy advisory committee into an Interfaith Advisory Council providing mentors to schools. He oversaw the district's African American Advisory Council and was responsible for rolling out the Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, college readiness program districtwide. Most recently, Raglin led a team in developing the district's equity plan, which will be reviewed by the school board this fall.
"There's really not an area that he did not touch," Sanders said.
Margaret Frisch Klein, rabbi of Congregation Kneseth Israel in Elgin and a close friend of Raglin, said it is the toughest news she has had to break to community members.
"It's heartbreaking," she said. "He was a 'mensch' -- a good, decent person. And he really believed in the good in everybody."
"In a place where there is no good person, strive to be that good person. That was Ron," Klein said, paraphrasing a Talmudic saying.
Raglin never stopped being an advocate for students even after they graduated and helped them find jobs, said Bill Wright, who served with Raglin on the ACE governing board.
"Watching him at a few graduations I attended, he would sit in a corner on the Sears Centre floor and smile at all the AVID students receiving their diplomas as a proud papa would," Wright wrote on Facebook. "His U-46 community lost a dear colleague. His students lost a champion."
Danise Habun, chair of Elgin's King Celebration Planning Committee and a friend of Raglin, said he earned the humanitarian award partly because of "his deep-rooted respect and admiration for Dr. King and also because of his firmly held belief in equity for all students."
"He was just a marvelous advocate for everybody," Habun said. "He had several outstanding qualities. One was his genuineness as a human being and his passion around racial justice, and just his ability to listen ... to critically think about many of the issues that are facing so many of us."
Raglin is survived by his wife of more than 35 years, Tena, also a teacher, his adult children, Matthew and Marissa, and three grandchildren. He was a member of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. Services are pending.
U-46 urged employees who need assistance dealing with his loss to call the Employee Assistance Program at (866) 828-6052.