New superintendents face challenges as students return to school
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org August 19, 2013 10:46PM
Scott Tingley, former principal at Lincoln-Way East High School, is the new superintendent in Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210. | Susan DeMar Lafferty~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 21, 2013 6:22AM
When Mokena students board the school bus Wednesday on the first day of class, they will be greeted by a friendly yet unfamiliar face.
Riding along will be Mokena School District 159’s new superintendent, Omar Castillo.
“I want to be in the community. I want parents and students to know who I am,” said Castillo, who comes to Mokena from Addison Elementary School District 4.
He is among the new superintendents who moved this summer into new offices in southwest suburban school districts. After getting their feet wet, they are ready to plunge into the new school year with a lot of excitement.
Among the other new superintendents in the area is Scott Tingley in Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210, and Russell Ragon has the reins in Manhattan School District 114.
In Mokena, parents can expect more visibility, in the classroom and in the community, Castillo said. They will see a more approachable school board and improved communications, he said.
“I will challenge my team to be the best school district that feeds into Lincoln-Way High School. Can we do that? Yes, we can,” he said. “We will build upon what we already have. Parents want what I want — the best education for their children.”
Castillo and Ragon are new to the area, while Tingley was promoted from within his district.
As each of the new superintendents in the Joliet area tackles a new learning curve, all will be faced with financial and academic challenges as school funding continues to be uncertain and the state moves forward with the new, more rigorous “Common Core” standards and new achievement tests by which to measure educational results.
In the Lincoln-Way area, District 210 has been “very fortunate” to have a stable administration, said Tingley, who succeeds Lawrence Wyllie, who retired after 24 years as superintendent.
“You can’t have a successful team without a successful coach,” Tingley said. “Our decision-making has been consistent over time. We have a strong culture here. Everyone has the same belief and mind-set.”
It is centered around improving student achievement and maintaining fiscal responsibility, he said.
Tingley does not plan to change anything, but nor will he “stand pat.”
“We never did it the exact same way as last year. The staff expects change and expects to get better,” he said.
He has spent 16 of his 20 years in education in District 210 and was picked last fall to succeed Wyllie.
Tingley was a principal at Lincoln-Way East before stepping into the superintendent’s office.
Ragon, who replaced the retired Howard Butters in Manhattan District 114, had been superintendent in downstate Cumberland Community Unit School District 77. District 114 serves 1,300 students from preschool through eighth grade.
“The Manhattan School District is large enough to offer an excellent curriculum, taught by highly qualified staff, yet small enough to provide individual student attention,” Ragon wrote in a message on the district website. “Our goal is for each of our students to become a self-confident thinker and problem solver, a good citizen, and a successful person.”