Joseph Matthew Saban, who taught educational leadership courses in the NIU Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, died Sept. 29 in Lakewood, Ill. He was 70.
Saban came to the NIU College of Education from Community High School District 155 in suburban McHenry County.
Beginning his career there in 1973 as a science teacher, he later became the district’s director of Business and Finance and eventually was named assistant superintendent for Finance and Staff Development.
His nine years as superintendent, from 1993 through his 2002 retirement, included the construction of Prairie Ridge High School.
The four-time NIU alum then taught at his alma mater from 2002 to 2013. His degrees included an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology.
“Joe was a gifted educator who eagerly shared his knowledge and professional expertise with graduate students in our college,” said Carolyn Pluim, chair of the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations. “Many in the Illinois educational community were touched by Joe’s kind and generous spirit.”
In 2007, while Saban continued to teach and advise working superintendents in pursuit of doctoral degrees and other educators who were seeking superintendent’s certificates, he and another retired superintendent shared the interim leadership of the North Boone School District.
His brief return to public schools felt comfortable: “I’ve never really left,” he said at the time. “I stay current with that stuff. It’s part of my duties.”
A memorial service was held Oct. 5 in Crystal Lake. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie; five children; and six grandchildren.