On May 19, the District 65 School Board held a reception in the lobby of the Joseph E. Hill Administration building to welcome Paul Goren as the new superintendent of School District 65. The reception, attended by more than 100 persons, marked Dr. Goren’s first official day as superintendent. He was approved by Board as superintendent on March 31, and since that time he has attended a number of Board and Committee meetings as an observer to increase his familiarity of the District.
After the reception, community members, staff and members of the School Board moved to the Board room and thanked Barb Hiller for coming out of retirement last August and guiding the District as chief administrator officer this school year. On Aug. 23, 2013, the Board appointed her as the District’s chief administrative officer after former Superintendent Hardy Murphy resigned just days before the start of the school year.
Ms. Hiller had previously worked for the District for almost 30 years as a teacher, mathematics curriculum coordinator, principal of Nichols Middle School and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. After leaving the District in 2005, she worked as an administrator coach for the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC).
Former Board member Sharon Sheehan said, “Barb has been a teacher, a principal, an assistant superintendent for curriculum and now she retires again as chief administrative officer, having worked – in some cases – with three generations of Evanstonians.” She said that Ms. Hiller has been a “non-judgmental, compassionate listener,” a “person who understood the whole child and put the child first, no matter what,” a “leader who treated all employees with respect and understanding believing that they were always doing their best,” and a “professional educator who never took her eye off the true end game of the educational success for all of our children.
“The most frequently heard descriptors of her work in the last few months have been, not surprisingly, collaborative, compassionate, and caring,” Ms. Sheehan continued. “And for all of this, Barb, Evanston children and their families will be forever grateful.”
Lise Jinno, executive director of Foundation 65, said a question that Ms. Hiller always asked was “How will this benefit kids?” – which was a question alluded to by other speakers. “That question, that drive is really at the core of who she is and the essence behind her commitment as an educator,” Ms. Jinno said.
Board President Tracy Quattrocki said Ms. Hiller was enjoying retirement when she was asked to take on the role of chief administrative officer. Ms. Hiller “didn’t blink,” said Ms. Quattrocki, and her decision was motivated solely by her “dedication to the District.”
Referring to Ms. Hiller’s refrain that “education is all about the kids,” Ms. Quattrocki said, “You have redefined that for me in my mind and inspired me. Whenever you make a decision, I know it’s about the kids. And that truly changes the conversation at the District when it’s always focused on the children.”
She added that Ms. Hiller brought many talents to the job. “We are grateful for your generosity, your kindness, and for your commitment to everyone.”
Sheila Burke, executive assistant to Ms. Hiller, said, “There are really no words to describe the journey that we have been on since last August. On behalf of all the staff at the Joseph E. Hill Administration Building, thank you for your humanistic approach to leadership, the depth and breadth of you knowledge, the respect you show for each and every employee, the compassion and drive you have for the District.”
Each School Board member present expressed appreciation as well.
Claudia Garrison said, “I so much appreciate your wisdom, your guidance. … It has been an extraordinary year because of you.”
Richard Rykhus said the fact that he did not receive one negative comment about the appointment of Ms. Hiller when she was appointed chief administrative officer, “speaks volumes about what you were going to be able to do. You lived up to everybody’s expectations.”
“You truly are collaborative,” said Katie Bailey. “You gave educators freedom to make decisions, and you were always there to give guidance and always keeping the child in mind. … The District is in a better place now.”
Candance Chow told Ms. Hiller that she helped shape what the Board and the community were looking for in a new superintendent “through the virtues that you brought to this role. When someone said earlier, ‘caring, collaboration, compassion,’ these are character traits that we needed in a leader and we continue to need, and we find them in Dr. Goren.”
Suni Kartha said, “It’s been a joy to serve with you and learn from you.”
Ms. Hiller said, “Working with everyone that’s sitting up here was a gift. The staff has been incredible. Everybody in this District stands for children, whatever their role. … I thank everyone for their support. And, Dr. Goren, have a fabulous year.”