NIU’s Brad Hawk has been named interim superintendent of DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.
Hawk, a clinical assistant professor of Educational Administration in the College of Education’s Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, will assist in managing the school district while its current superintendent is on paid administrative leave.
As Hawk spends today and Thursday touring District 428 school buildings and chatting with staff, he expects to determine how the next several months will unfold.
“The purpose of an interim superintendent is to help prepare a school district to transfer from its current state to its preferred future, and to get a district ready for a new, full-time superintendent, by looking at the challenges that it faces,” Hawk said.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to help. I have a background and a skill set that seems to match what they need,” he added. “And, as we always say in our school leadership classes, good leaders have two ears and one mouth. There’s going to be a lot of listening. There’s going to be a lot of assimilating to their culture.”
Because the Illinois Teacher Retirement System strictly limits him to working 100 days, Hawk plans a “frugal” schedule to carry him as far as possible through the academic year. Meanwhile, he will teach half-time at NIU, including two online courses that meet selected Saturdays and evenings.
Despite being happy and busy in the College of Education, where he has taught and mentored many District 428 staff members, he is pleased to demonstrate that “actions speak louder than words” in conversations of “communiversity.”
“We have a unique situation where we, as a university, have the ability to help,” he said. “We should stand up and help.”
Laurie Elish-Piper, dean of the College of Education, applauds the school board’s decision in choosing “a model of servant leadership.”
“Dr. Bradley Hawk is truly committed to supporting and promoting the well-being of students, educators and the community,” Elish-Piper said. “With his experience as a school superintendent and his expertise in educational leadership, school business management and education policy, he will be able to serve District 428 well.”
Carolyn Pluim (Vander Schee), chair of the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, was not surprised by the district’s overture to Hawk.
“Dr. Hawk is an exemplary leader with an uncompromising and well-respected career of working collaboratively and effectively with school leaders, teachers, parents and students,” she said. “As an NIU graduate and current professor, he brings years of experience and expertise to the courses he teaches.”
Hawk retired in 2009 from Burlington Central Community Unit School District 301 after five years guiding that suburban system through tremendous growth.
Before that, he served as assistant superintendent for human resources in Huntley District 158 during its boom years. His career began in downstate Sterling, where he spent 26 years.
At NIU, he has developed online courses for the School Business Management program that consistently rank among the nation’s best according to U.S. News and World Report.