At the May 19 Indian Prairie School District Board of Education meeting, board members approved naming the Neuqua Valley High School freshman building the Kathryn J. Birkett Freshman Center after District 204’s retiring superintendent. Birkett, a Northern Illinois University alumna, is retiring after a 35 year career in Indian Prairie, which includes opening Neuqua Valley High School in 1997.
Administrators at Neuqua Valley High School suggested the name change to the Board of Education. Principal Bob McBride said Birkett’s watermark on the school is indelible.
“Dr. Birkett’s legacy is etched in the walls, built in the design, and infused in the soul of our school,” said McBride.
Board President Lori Price said the board is proud to name the building after Birkett.
“It seems only fitting that the first building students enter as Neuqua Valley High School students is named after the principal who was there when Neuqua Valley welcomed its very first students,” said Price.
Birkett, who earned her master’s degree in educational administration at NIU, has served as superintendent of schools for Indian Prairie School District 204 since July 2009. She retires in June after dedicating more than three decades to the district, including serving as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant deputy superintendent.
As the superintendent of Illinois’ third largest school district—33 schools serve 29,000 students—Birkett made progress in closing achievement gaps with minority students; placed the district on solid financial footings despitecuts in state educational funding; and realized strong community approval ratings in the area of communications.
Birkett was one of 28 superintendents selected nationwide to serve on the League of Innovative Schools as part of the Digital Promise Initiative of the U.S. Department of Education. As a result, she implemented Bring Your Own Technology in District 204 classrooms. She was also one of 100 superintendents selected nationally to participate in the Education Research and Development Institute, reviewing the latest innovative educational programs and products.
She is active in the community, currently serving as a member of Naperville Rotary and is on the executive committee/board of directors of Metropolitan Chicago YMCA. She is also a board member of Large Unit School District Association, Naperville Heritage Society and Naperville Development Partnership. She has served on the board of directors of Edward Hospital and has recently been selected to the North Central College Board of Trustees.