Wayne Williams

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 On June 8, the District 65 School Board approved the recommendation to appoint Adrian Harries as the next principal of Nichols Middle School and Wayne Williams as principal of Oakton Elementary School. Mr. Harries and Mr. Williams will officially join the District 65 team in July. The School Board also approved the recommendation to appoint Michelle Cooney, Assistant Principal at Lincoln Elementary, as the school’s Interim Principal for the 2015-2016 school year.

“It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to welcome two former employees back to District 65,” said Superintendent Paul Goren. “Their familiarity with our community and knowledge of our school system will be an asset in their new roles.”

Mr. Harries served as principal of Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies from 2010-2012, prior to being named to his current position as principal of Irving Middle School in District 89.

Mr. Williams served as a psychologist at several schools within District 65 from 2002-2007 before accepting a position as a Principal Intern in Chicago Public Schools. Less than a year later, he was appointed Principal at John Hay Community Academy and has served in this role for the past seven years.

As part of the principal selection process at Nichols Middle School and Oakton Elementary, a diverse group of teachers, educational support staff, parents, and administrators worked in collaboration to develop leadership profiles that identified the skills and attributes desired for their next school principal. The information contained within the leadership profiles was used to narrow down the applicant pool and to develop interview questions.

During the week of May 25, staff and parents were invited to attend a community forum at their respective school to meet the candidates being considered for school principal. Following the community forum, each candidate met with the school interview committee comprised of teachers, parents, and administrators. Members of each school community were invited to apply to serve on their interview committee. As the final step in the process, Dr. Goren conducted site visits and extensive interviews with the candidates considered to be the best potential fit for the important leadership roles.

“With over 100 combined applicants for both positions, we had an extremely talented group of educators within the candidate pool. Mr. Harries and Mr. Williams were considered a strong fit for their respective roles and have the capacity to be exceptional leaders at Nichols Middle School and Oakton Elementary,” said Dr. Goren. “Both principals are highly qualified and will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our school community. We look forward to hosting an opportunity for staff and parents to get to know their new principals prior to school starting in the fall.”

On June 8, the School Board also approved the recommendation to appoint Michelle Cooney, Assistant Principal at Lincoln Elementary, as the school’s Interim Principal. “Ms. Cooney is a respected leader within the Lincoln school community and has stepped up to provide additional support for the students and staff this school year,” said Dr. Goren. “I am confident in her ability to effectively serve in this leadership role.”

Ms. Cooney has served as the Assistant Principal at Lincoln Elementary since 2013. Prior to coming to District 65, she held the position as Interim Principal for LEARN 6 Charter School in North Chicago. She also has an extensive background in literacy having served as a Director of Literacy, Intermediate Literacy Coordinator, and 5th Grade Literacy Teacher.

Biography Information

Adrian Harries

Mr. Harries is currently serving as the Principal of Irving Middle School in Maywood, Illinois, where he supervises a diverse group of staff as well as approximately 700 students from six different elementary schools throughout Maywood.  He has served in this role since July 2012. While serving as principal, he has coordinated school and district-wide professional development and implementation for curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards; overseen the development and implementation of Restorative Practices and Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) for the purpose of creating a positive building climate; and coordinated the evaluation of over seventy staff members with the intent of professional growth and development.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Harries served for two years as principal at Garfield Elementary School in Maywood; two years as principal at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Evanston; three years as principal at Lynne Thigpen Elementary School in Joliet; and one year as assistant principal at Dirksen Junior High School in Joliet.

Mr. Harries is a graduate of Evanston Township High School.  He continued his education and received a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in January 1999, followed by a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from National-Louis University in April 2006.

Mr. Harries speaks polite Spanish.  His core competencies include:  performance standards and development, development of a Professional Learning Community, Common Core development and implementation, PARCC assessment training, PERA teacher evaluations, RtI development and implementation, technology implementation, Restorative Justice Program development, PBIS program development, and budget development and oversight.  In addition, during his years as Principal at Bessie Rhodes, his accomplishments included the following:

  • Oversight of the development of a global studies curriculum that centered around four primary pillars:  science and technology, community service, language acquisition, and geography
  • Coordination of the development of a PBIS model that incorporated the Discipline with Stress Program and enhanced the social-emotional development of the school’s student population
  • Coordination of the development of a Mandarin language program and Chinese Foreign Exchange program targeted at creating better global citizens

As a principal and instructional leader, he aspires to establish a school culture and education program that is conducive to student learning and socialization.  He seeks to promote staff professional development, as well as teamwork and cooperation.  He coordinates his efforts with parents and family members to ensure that students remain disciplined and focused, and receive appropriate attention to meet their needs

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Wayne Williams

Mr. Williams returns to District 65 after serving as Principal at John Hay Community Academy in Chicago.  He has served Hay Academy since September 2008.  His accomplishments in this role include:

  • Creating a safe, orderly, and productive learning environment with focus on continuous improvement
  • Developing learning systems and structures that promote significant increase in student learning
  • Creating a school culture focused on college and career readiness
  • Increasing the quality of family and community engagement activities

Prior to his current role, Mr. Williams served as a Principal Intern for one year at Chicago Public Schools. He was a School Psychologist for five years with Evanston/Skokie School District 65.  As a school psychologist, his accomplishments included the following:

  • Developing and implementing a district-wide student intervention program with 80% reduction in referrals to special education programs
  • Engaging staff, students, and parents in the creation and launch of Parent University, an annual district resource fair and training seminar
  • Serving on the district professional development team leading workshops on reading instruction, at-risk student intervention, differentiated instruction, special education referral, and the co-teach model
  • Designing and implementing a book club where staff voluntarily met with small groups of at-risk students on a weekly basis

Mr. Williams is a graduate of North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.  He continued his education and received a Bachelor of Science in Math and Science Dual Education from University of North Carolina in August 1996, followed by a Master of Arts in School Psychology from University of North Carolina in August 2001.  He is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Urban School Leadership from University of Illinois at Chicago.

As a principal, he aspires to be a transformative, instructional leader in an innovative learning environment where student achievement is the focus, professional development is promoted, and organizational capacity is increased.  He seeks to be a change agent in a continuous improvement cycle by building clear organizational systems and structures, and providing information to school stakeholders to engage followers.

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Michelle Cooney

Michelle Cooney will assume the position of Interim Principal at Lincoln effective July 1, 2015.  Ms. Cooney has served as the Assistant Principal at Lincoln since August 2013.  Prior to this, Ms. Cooney served as Interim Principal and Assistant Principal at LEARN Charter School Network for 1 year and Director of Literacy at Suder Magnet Montessori School in Chicago for 2 years.  Ms. Cooney received a Master of Arts in Administration and Supervision from National-Louis University in June 2010, a Master of Science in Elementary Education from Northwestern University in June 1997, and a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Northwestern University in June 1996.