Butler School District 53 Names Butler Junior High Principal and Assistant Principal

Butler School District 53 Names Butler Junior High Principal and Assistant Principal

The Butler School District 53 Board of Education has named Andrea Prola as the new Principal of Butler Junior High and Melissa Zaniewski as the new Assistant Principal. Both are current educators and leaders in District 53.

Prola currently serves as Director of Student Services, overseeing special education, the English learners program, intervention and assessments, and the early childhood program, among others. Zaniewski is a veteran language arts teacher at Butler Junior High.

“Ms. Prola has strong student-centered leadership, deep knowledge of data-based interventions and a strong history of building quality programs,” said Superintendent Dr. Paul O’Malley. “Ms. Zaniewski’s inclusive, whole student philosophy, high standards, and respectful leadership will serve our students, staff and families well,” said O’Malley.

Board President Christopher Edmonds said the District conducted a wide search including internal and external candidates. “Throughout the process, it was clear that the internal candidates had a clear vision of the opportunities for increased performance by the talented children in the District,” he said. “We are excited to see the new administrative appointments step into their roles and enhance the educational experience for all students in Butler 53.” 

Prola joined District 53 in 2017 in a new position as Director of Student Services. In that role, she developed systems and procedures for early intervention services and an evaluation process for special education plans, implemented a framework for supporting services and created a parent partnership program. Prior to joining Butler, she served as a case manager in Troy Community School District and as a learning behavior specialist in Troy.  She has been a graduate instructor at both Lewis University and University of Illinois/Chicago and a special education coordinator and graduate instructor at the University of St. Francis in Joliet. In addition, Prola was a Golden Apple Scholar and serves as a Golden Apple instructor and ambassador. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from the University of St. Francis, a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Concordia University and is expected to complete her doctorate in special education from the University of Illinois/Chicago this year. 

Zaniewski joined Butler in 2004 and in addition to teaching, has led professional development programs, developed learning objective frameworks, helped create the District’s new state-required teacher evaluation process, and served as the intervention coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English/Secondary Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Organization and Leadership, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been described as a “master teacher” who is both student-centered and has a unique ability to motivate students and teachers alike.

“I am both humbled and honored to assume this new role at Butler Junior High School, said Zaniewski. “I look forward to continuing to serve our exceptional students, their families, and the community for the years to come.”

In her new role, Prola will serve as Principal/Director of Student Services and Zaniewski will serve as a full-time Assistant Principal. To fill the role vacated by Prola, an Assistant Director of Student Services/School Psychologist will be hired.
Prola said she is grateful and proud to join an exceptional group of educators, parents and school community. “Serving this wonderful community and creating a learning environment that fully supports the needs of all students are a top priority. I look forward to working and learning in unison with the Butler family, maintaining the program of academic excellence and strengthening relationships with students, teachers, staff, parents, administrators and the Board of Education.” 
Prola succeeds Amy Read, who accepted a principal position in Downers Grove. Zaniewski succeeds Alison Prochaska who resigned the part-time position to accept a full-time position as an instructional coach in Franklin Park.
Throughout the search and interview process, both Prola and Zaniewski stood out as respected, knowledgeable leaders with a genuine interest in a successful future for the entire school community. “We are excited to have them in this new role inspiring our students to reach their greatest potential,” said O’Malley.

As part of the search process, parents and staff were surveyed on their desires for a new principal and committees of teachers and parents were part of finalist interviews.