West Aurora Unit 129 appoints four new leaders
This spring, the West Aurora Unit District 129 board has announced the appointment of two new principals and new two assistant principals.
• Jeff Bryant was appointed as principal of Jefferson Middle School for the 2021-2022 school year. Since 2015, Bryant has served as the assistant principal of teaching and learning at Jefferson Middle School. In that role, he has been responsible for developing the master schedule, implementing district and state assessments, and leading building-level professional development. Additional leadership responsibilities have included the integration of Challenging Learning, the research-based instructional framework that embraces the curiosity, complexity, and joy of learning.
Prior to his time as assistant principal, Bryant spent nearly two years as a student services specialist at Jefferson Middle School. His duties in that role included the implementation of the student handbook, the facilitation of supports for students, and the development of staff supervision schedules.
Bryant brings to his role a combined nine years of middle school teaching experience. Eight of those years were spent as a social studies teacher at Jefferson Middle School while the other one year was at Sagewood Middle School in Parker, Colorado. During his time in the classroom, Bryant also supervised student teachers and coached both soccer and basketball.
Bryant's education includes receiving a Bachelor of Arts in history and secondary education from Colorado State University and a Master of Arts in educational leadership from Aurora University.
"I am so excited for the opportunity to lead Jefferson as the next principal," Bryant said. "I am very grateful for the faith that the Jefferson community, West Aurora School District, and West Aurora Board of Education has placed in me by giving me this opportunity to continue to support the growth of the Jefferson students and staff."
• Jana L. Ream was appointed as principal of Freeman Elementary School for the 2021-2022 school year. Ream will bring a combined four years of building administration experience to her new role. She spent three years as the assistant principal of Schneider Elementary School and currently serves as the assistant principal of Nicholson Elementary School. As an assistant principal, she is responsible for supporting the building principal in developing a vision for the school. Other duties include the management and development of staff, the creation of the building crisis plan, and the implementation of both state and district assessments.
Prior to her time as a building administrator, Ream served as a case manager for all School District 129 students who were privately placed. She did this in both the role of private placement coordinator and as the outplacement curriculum coordinator. As the outplacement curriculum coordinator, she was also responsible for the oversight of the district's school psychologists and social work departments.
Ream started her career in education as a school psychologist, a role she held for six years. That time was split between Herget Middle School and the Rural Champaign County Special Education Cooperative. As a school psychologist, her responsibilities included performing student evaluations and providing counseling services. Additional leadership opportunities included serving on the building's crisis team and the district's intervention team.
Ream's education includes receiving a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Illinois. She later received her school psychologist licensure from Illinois State University and then a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Aurora University.
"I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Freeman family," Ream stated. "I look forward to walking alongside the staff and community to support the academic learning and emotional well-being of our students."
• Naomi Irizarry was appointed as assistant principal of Hall Elementary School for the 2021-22 school year. Irizarry currently serves as a biliteracy and English as a second language instructional coach in West Chicago School District 33, a role that she has held for the past four years. In addition to engaging in student-centered coaching cycles with teachers, Irizarry is also responsible for developing professional development opportunities for district staff. Other duties include creating and revising content units as part of her work on the school accountability committee.
Before her time in West Chicago, Irizarry spent 11 years in Queen Bee School District 16 in Glendale Heights. There, she held the positions of bilingual kindergarten teacher, second language learner resource teacher, and second language learner first-grade teacher. Part of her work included assessing students' social and academic proficiency in English as well as organizing a language acquisition program for newcomers.
Irizarry received a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master of Arts in school leadership from Concordia University of Chicago.
"Thank you to the board for this opportunity," said Irizarry. "I am very excited to join the West Aurora School District and to be part of the amazing things that are happening."
• Shelley Ramos was appointed as assistant principal of teaching and learning at Jefferson Middle School for the 2021-2022 school year. For the past two years, Ramos has held the position of dean of students at Jefferson Middle School. Her responsibilities have included the evaluation of staff to enhance practice and improve effectiveness as well as the coordination of parent meetings to make sure students with disabilities receive accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment. Ramos has also been instrumental in the development of preventative disciplinary measures to strengthen the school community.
Prior to her time at Jefferson Middle School, Ramos served as the assistant principal of Freeman Elementary School for two years. There, she was responsible for the implementation of state and local standardized testing and professional development for staff on topics such as balanced literacy and guided math. One of her primary accomplishments in that role was the creation of a student mentoring program.
For a combined nine years, Ramos served as dean of students at West Aurora High School and at Ira Jones Middle School in Plainfield, Illinois. While at West High, she led professional learning communities focused on implementing preventative approaches to increase student attendance and grades. During her time at Ira Jones Middle School, where she also served as assistant principal, she was able to reduce the suspension rates by ten percent through the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).
Ramos started her career in education as a learning behavioral specialist at Nicholson Elementary School in School District 129. Her primary responsibility in that role was to serve as a case manager for students with individualized educational plans. Ramos was recognized as the "Best of the West" by her colleagues in both 2006 and 2007.
Ramos holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University, a Master of Science in special education from Rosary College, and a Master of Arts in educational administration from Aurora University.
"I am grateful for the opportunity that the Board of Education and district leadership have given me to become the assistant principal of teaching and learning at Jefferson Middle School," stated Ramos. "I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Jefferson staff and community to best support the needs of our students."