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This fall, School District 65 is welcoming several new faces to its leadership team – Stacy Beardsley, Interim Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction;  Ismalis “Izzy” Nunez, Social Worker on Special Assignment to lead family and community efforts; and Vernessa Stepney, Special Services Supervisor.

 “Each brings a wealth of knowledge and talent that will enhance and strengthen the programming and services offered to students, families, and staff,” said Superintendent Paul Goren. “With financial uncertainty ahead, we have to be conscious of our budget while still providing the necessary supports for our students and families. We were able to restructure central office positions and shift responsibilities so that the district did not incur any additional costs. I believe our new colleagues will have a tremendous impact in their new roles and we are glad to have them aboard.” The positions will provide administrative support and are included within the cost parameters of the proposed budget.

District 65 welcomes Stacey Beardsley as its new Interim Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Beardsley is responsible for the leadership and implementation of district curricula and supports. In addition, she will establish professional learning opportunities for teachers and staff that promote high-quality instruction and implementation of district curricula. Dr. Beardsley’s work will have three primary areas of focus:  professional learning, literacy, and technology.  Her work in these areas will help to achieve the goals listed in the District’s strategic plan and will also increase the level of support for the curriculum and instruction team. She was most recently the leader and Chief Academic Officer (CAO) for Civitas Education Partners, a school management organization, in the City of Chicago. This organization is responsible for managing four Chicago International Charter School (CICS) campuses totaling 2,500 students. Her responsibilities included oversight of operations, finance, human resources, and academics including curriculum and instruction, student supports and leadership development.

Prior to her role at Civitas, Dr. Beardsley served as CAO and co-founder of Chicago Rise and School Director at North/Kenwood Oakland Campus of the University of Chicago Charter School. She has also served as a classroom instructor and administrator. Dr. Beardsley earned a BA in economics from Boston College, an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University, and an EdD in Urban Educational Leadership from the University of Illinois Chicago. 

As a Social Worker on Special Assignment, Ismalis “Izzy” Nunez will head family and community engagement efforts in District 65. She is responsible for cultivating trusting, intentional partnerships with families and community agencies to support academic success and healthy social emotional development of all students. Ms. Nunez served as a social worker at Haven Middle School for the past five years. Guided by the District’s new strategic plan, Ms. Nunez will work to expand meaningful engagement opportunities for families; evaluate the holistic needs of children and families within the District; expand on the Community Schools initiative; and create strong learning supports for staff members to enhance engagement within the Evanston and Skokie communities.

As a social worker, Ms. Nunez provided services in a variety of forms to students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and those without. She worked closely with their families to provide various supports as needed. She is also fluent in English and Spanish and has served on the District Leadership Team and the Safe and Supportive Climate strategic planning committee. Ms. Nunez grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and attended Loyola University in Chicago where she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Before joining the District 65 team, she worked at Youth and Opportunity United (Y.O.U.), Mercy Home for Boys, and in therapeutic education.

Vernessa Stepney will fill the role of Special Services Supervisor for Kingsley, Walker, Washington, and Willard elementary schools. She is responsible for coordinating special education programs and related services at her assigned schools. She will work closely with IEP teams as she manages school-based evaluation and ensures the appropriate delivery of services. Ms. Stepney most recently served as an assistant principal in the Schaumburg School District for three years and as a school psychologist for six years prior to this role. She started her career in the Waukegan School District as a school psychologist. Ms. Stepney earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University and earned two Master’s Degrees – a Master of Arts in School Psychology from Governors State University and a Master of Science in Educational Administration from Northern Illinois University. As a Special Services Supervisor, Ms. Stepney believes her role is to serve all children of District 65 by working collaboratively with schools and families to ensure that all students are successful in achieving academic success.