New Northbrook principal returns to where his career began

New Northbrook principal returns to where his career began

  • Courtesy of Leora KurtzSam Kurtz, the new principal at Maple School in Northbrook

    Courtesy of Leora KurtzSam Kurtz, the new principal at Maple School in Northbrook

Updated 7/10/2020 6:20 AM

Sam Kurtz knew what he was getting into.

It's why he returned.


While the Maple School where he taught is not the same one-year-old Maple School built right next-door at 2370 Shermer Road in Northbrook, as its new principal he feels the same energy.

"It's important for everyone to understand that the building doesn't make the school, the people do," Kurz said. "Even though I don't know my way around the building yet, I still feel at home."

Succeeding the man he called a mentor, Dr. Nathan Carter, for whom he once served as an intern and taught under for seven years, Kurtz on July 1 returned to Maple School as its principal.

"It's a dream come true," said Kurtz, 33.

"In all sincerity, when I was at Maple School as a sixth-grade science teacher from 2009 through 2016, I loved it here and I always told people I never wanted to teach anywhere else. It's a very special place where the staff gets along like family and the students and community are engaged and invested in the learning and support of the work that the school does. It just feels like a very wonderful place," Kurtz said.

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The Glenview resident technically hasn't taught elsewhere.

After earning his master's and Type 75 certification while teaching, coaching and serving as athletic director at Maple School, the University of Illinois undergrad served separate two-year terms first as an associate principal at Deerfield's Shepard Middle School and then as principal at Edgewood Middle School in Highland Park.

After a "very thorough and pleasant" screening and interview process that ended this past February, Kurtz's dream did come true.

"This is a unique opportunity to return to a school that I just love, and a district I love," he said. "Had this opportunity not worked out I still would have been in (North Shore School) District 112 and I would have been happy in my work. But seeing those familiar faces around the table reminded me of why I was so excited about the opportunity to pursue this position."

A former athlete and musician at Buffalo Grove High School, Kurtz said his initial goals at Maple School are to form relationships with the students, families and teachers there, and to serve as their advocate.

But his initial goals don't much differ from his long-term goals.

"I achieve my goals when they achieve their goals, and that's what I'm here to do," he said.


Kurtz and his wife, Leora, have two young children. Leora is a teacher who filled Sam's position teaching science at Maple School when he went to Shepard. To keep personal and professional lives separate, this fall Leora will be teaching at Wood Oaks Junior High in Northbrook.

A veteran of 12 marathons, Kurtz jogs by Maple School on his regular runs. He plans on being a neighborhood staple, in and out of school, for a long time.

"I stress how fortunate I feel and how excited I am about the upcoming years -- plural -- at Maple, and serving this community, being able to make an impact on a community in which I live and which I care so much about," he said.

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