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Community Input Shapes Superintendent Profile

The next superintendent to lead District 28 should be student-centered, innovative, confident, resilient and have a deep knowledge of best practices in teaching and learning. The next leader should communicate decisions with clarity, reason and empathy after considering input from all stakeholders. And, the next leader should be genuine, caring, personable and skilled at building trust and maintaining the positive climate and culture of the district.

These are some of the top traits in the superintendent’s profile presented by the executive search firm School Exec Connect following a month of community engagement. The profile was developed after the Board of Education invited more than 2,700 teachers, support staff, administration, parents, community members and students to participate in focus groups and/or an online survey about the district’s strengths and challenges, priorities and characteristics of a new superintendent. There were 458 responses to the survey and 98 people who participated in focus groups.

“There was a real consistency in what people said,” commented School Exec Connect Consultant Linda Yonke to the board of education at the Oct. 26 Board of Education meeting. “In particular, of the many searches I have been involved in, I have never seen parents and teachers so in sync in terms of strengths, challenges and qualities they would like to see in a superintendent.”

The first and foremost strength (of the district) noted was the teaching and administrative staff. “Parents said it feels like a family and they like being part of the district. Another strength is the value the community places on education. The teacher retention rate is very good and there is a stable administrative staff.”

Respondents want the superintendent to be able to balance academic goals with social-emotional learning. A careful transition plan is important and the new superintendent should be prepared to collaborate and respond to all constituencies, she said.

The firm had received 32 applications for the position and will continue to accept applications through Oct. 31. The New Superintendent Profile will be used to screen candidates and present a slate of about 10 candidates for the board to review in a closed session on November 9. The Community Engagement Report and the superintendent search timeline is posted on the district’s superintendent search webpage. The board hopes to hire a new superintendent before the end of 2021.

Board President Tracy Katz Muhl said of the search process, "For 15 years Dr. Hewitt has served the community and children of Northbrook 28 with integrity, compassion and dedication. As a board, we are striving to hire a new superintendent who will uphold our values and expectations of continuous improvement for many years to come."