After five years leading Butler School District 53, Superintendent Dr. Heidi Wennstrom notified the Board of Education that she will retire at the end of the 2018-19 school year. The Board has immediately begun the process to search for a replacement.
"This was not an easy decision for me,” said Dr. Wennstrom. “It has been a highlight of my career to lead such a high performing District that is steadfastly devoted to the betterment of our students,” she said. “I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some of the most committed teachers, top-notch administrators and dedicated families during my time here.”
Board President Dr. Elizabeth Chun noted Dr. Wennstrom’s strong leadership. “Dr. Wennstrom is an educator whose wisdom and heart for doing what is right for students has been a great asset to Butler,” she said. “The initiatives and improvements she began took an already excellent school system to even greater heights.”
Dr. Chun said that the Board is reviewing a variety of options in ensuring a successful search. The search will be broad, inclusive and involve community stakeholders. The Board plans to award a contract to the next superintendent by February 2019.
Principals noted Dr. Wennstrom’s accomplishments. “During her time in District 53, Dr. Wennstrom led the District in developing an Instructional Blueprint, which provides guiding principles for curriculum and instruction, and more recently led the initiative to develop a four-year Strategic Plan for the Butler 53 community,” said Butler Junior High Principal Amy Read. Also, as a curricular leader, she helped elevate the curriculum and instruction through integration of the Common Core State Standards, created more focused assessments to drive instructional improvements, advanced professional growth for teachers, initiated a robust STEM program K-8 and spearheaded a Language Arts Reading and Writing Workshop model that was celebrated for its best practices, Read added.
Brook Forest Principal Dr. Chad Prosen noted the significance in advancing digital literacy and access for staff and students, including the launching of devices for each and every student. Dr. Prosen said that Dr. Wennstrom also launched strategic communication with stakeholders, transparency initiatives, and created social media plans including an app to improve communications throughout the District.
During her time, both Brook Forest and Butler Junior High were awarded the national Blue Ribbon Award, the highest national award given to schools.
Finally, both principals noted that she developed strong stakeholder partnerships with the Oak Brook Education Association (OBEA), the PTO and launched a parent education and advisory group. “The commitment to whole child learning opportunities in her work is exemplary and empowers students to soar beyond expectations,” said Dr. Prosen. The District recently implemented strong social and emotional programs: Eight Keys of Excellence at Brook Forest and the RULER program at Butler Junior High.
Dr. Wennstrom praised the commitment of the Board, staff and administrators. “Each and every one at Butler District 53 is committed toward getting to the same goal – nurturing each child and helping them achieve his or her personal best.”
She also praised parents and families for their involvement and support. “The partnership with parents is exemplary and plays a huge role in Butler District 53’s success in all areas. Parents couldn’t be more committed and supportive,” she said.
Dr. Wennstrom began her career teaching 2nd grade at Emmons School District 33, taught grades 5th grade and kindergarten in Libertyville School District 70, was principal of Hillcrest School in Antioch 34 and served as assistant superintendent in both Antioch District 34 and North Shore District 112. She received her B.A. in elementary education from Trinity International University, in Bannockburn, her M.A. in educational leadership from Northeastern Illinois University, in Chicago, and a Ph.D in educational psychology from Loyola University and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from National Louis University, in Chicago.