The following information was submitted by Mindy Ward, director of community relations for school district 62. It is an announcement from the Illinois Association of School Administrators regarding the naming of Superintendent Dr. Jane Beyer Westerhold as Superintendet of the Year:
Dr. Jane L. Beyer Westerhold, superintendent of Des Plaines Community Consolidated School District 62, has been selected the 2013 Illinois Superintendent of the Year by the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).
The award was presented Sunday (Nov. 18) during the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago co-sponsored by the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO) and the IASA.
“I am extremely honored and humbled to be recognized by my peers, and although I am extremely proud of District 62’s accomplishments over the past eight years, I certainly cannot take the credit in isolation,” Westerhold said. “I share this award with a Board of Education committed to children, an amazing group of fellow administrators, our teachers and support staff, our parents, our partners, our volunteers, and the boys and girls who are served by us. All of the arrows have to be pointing in the same direction. Our motto is “Working Together for our Children” and this is a true testament.”
Those who nominated Westerhold noted some major accomplishments in the Des Plaines district since she became superintendent in 2005, including:
- Overseeing the successful completion of a “Master Plan” that included a $109 million school facilities upgrade and the opening last year of a new Early Learning Center.
- Reducing by half the achievement gap between low income and non-low income students from 28 percent to 14 percent, during that eight-year period despite the percentage of low-income students rising from 28 to 45 percent.
- Implementing a new teacher evaluation program that put the district ahead of the curve in implementing the education reform package that became law in Illinois a year ago.
- Maintaining the Financial Recognition rating – the Illinois State Board of Education’s highest category – each of the past eight years and attaining a bond rating of “AA+” in 2009 and again in 2011.
Des Plaines District 62 includes nearly 5,000 pre-K through eighth-grade students housed in eight elementary schools, two middle schools and one year-round school of choice for grades K through eight. The student population is very diverse, with a third of the students being defined as Limited English Proficient – more than four times the state average.
“While District 62 is not unique in our demographic trends, Dr. Westerhold is unique in her response,” said Board President Brenda Murphy, noting that no fewer than 61 different languages are spoken by students in the Des Plaines district. “She celebrates diversity as an asset, knowing that it allows our students to experience and prepare for the real world every single day in school. Dr. Westerhold embraces the challenge to make an important impact on all our students, our future leaders, and the future of our community.”
Westerhold has been an educator for more than 35 years, serving as a principal, director of curriculum and instruction and assistant superintendent in various Illinois school districts. Prior to being named superintendent in Des Plaines in 2005, she served as assistant superintendent in Valley View Community School District 365U for four years, and Schaumburg School District 54 for nine years.
Westerhold attended Illinois State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she also attained her Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision. She attended graduate school at St. Louis University and completed her Education Doctorate in Leadership and Policy Studies from Loyola University in Chicago.
Murphy acknowledged Westerhold’s commitment to opening the lines of communication not only with the board and staff, but also with the community.
“Providing effective leadership for teaching and learning in the 21st century is a complex responsibility that requires effective communications both within and outside the school district,” the board president said. “Dr. Westerhold actively develops communication channels that support the success of our diverse population. She works hard to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect with staff and community, an area that was of significant concern before her arrival.”
In addition to her work in the community, Westerhold has been very involved in IASA leadership roles, including representing the Cook North Region on the Board of Directors the past four years and currently serving as treasurer of the statewide association that represents more than 1,100 school administrators in Illinois.
“Dr. Westerhold is an educator who has dedicated her professional career to the vision of the IASA, which is ‘Maximum Educational Success for All Students,’“ said IASA Executive Director Dr. Brent Clark. “Her work in the Des Plaines district is a testament to that and she is most deserving of this honor.”
The IASA awards a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior of high academic and moral character as chosen by the Superintendent of the Year. Because Westerhold’s district is kindergarten through eighth grade, the winner will be selected next spring from Staunton High School, the school from which she graduated.
As the IASA award winner, Westerhold will be in the running for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year award to be announced at the national conference in February of 2013. The AASA awards a $10,000 scholarship in honor of the national winner.
The District 62 Board of Education will honor Dr. Westerhold at a community reception, which is from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Monday, Dec. 17, in the Early Learning Center Multi-Purpose and Community Rooms. Questions regarding the reception should be directed to (847) 824-8070.
According to the Illinois Association of School Administrators each candidate was judged on the following criteria:
- Leadership for learning: creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in his or her school system.
- Communication: strength in both personal and organizational communication.
- Professionalism: constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills, while providing professional developement opportunities and motivation to others on the education team.
- Community involvement: active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national and international issues.