CHAMPAIGN – After a two-hour special meeting Thursday, Champaign school board members named a new batch of school principals, including principals of two of the three district middle schools.
Stephen Lucas was named principal of Edison Middle School. Lucas, a member of the University of Illinois education faculty and middle-school expert, and Champaign native Richard Patton, a special-education teacher in Alaska, held a public forum last week to talk to Edison parents.
Susan Zola, currently the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, was named interim principal of Jefferson Middle School. Zola has worked in district administration since 1997, and, before that, she was principal of Dr. Howard School.
"I'm looking forward to being in a school and working directly with students and teachers again," she said. "Jefferson has a strong reputation for success, and I will continue that reputation and move forward."
Jefferson's principal, Mary Hettinger Millsap, has accepted a job as Tolono-based Unit 7's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and junior high school principal.
Deborah Coleman was appointed principal of the Early Childhood Center, which moves from Marquette School to new quarters just south of Stratton School this school year. She replaces Pat Wilson, who retired at the end of the school year.
Coleman earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois, and she has been a transition consultant and program coordinator for the UI and the Rural Champaign County Special Education Cooperative. She's currently principal of Middletown Early Childhood Center.
Both Zola and Lucas have doctorates in education. Lucas has been a UI faculty member for two years.
At the forum on June 25, Lucas said his academic research made him long to tackle the challenges of middle school education in the classroom. He said he looks for three things in a middle school – academic performance, opportunities for students and equity and social justice.
"My research has involved visiting middle schools all over the U.S. and Illinois, and I had a teaching background in California, and you forget how much you miss the day-to-day activity until you go back into the buildings," Lucas said Thursday.
"Part of the attraction of the Unit 4 job to me is the emphasis on achievement, the issues with the consent decree and other issues," he said. "What's going on in the middle school is typical of what's facing schools in the U.S., and I want to be in the middle of that as a building leader."
You can reach Anne Cook at (217) 351-5217 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.