Maybe good things do come in small packages. That’s at least what District 96’s new superintendent believes.

Last Thursday at a special meeting, District 96 board members voted unanimously to approve the hiring of Dr. Jonathan Lamberson as its new superintendent. Most recently superintendent of Lake Forest High School District 115, Lamberson comes to Riverside with 24 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in both small and very large districts.

“At a high school district there’s an acknowledgement that you have four years and that’s it,” Lamberson said. “At the elementary level you are able to have nine-plus years to affect the lives, hearts and minds of students in a positive way, and that’s very attractive. That was the key issue.”

Lamberson’s hiring caps a five-month search process by the District 96 board, which was facilitated by the search firm of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. Staff members, parents  and students will get their first chance to meet with Lamberson on Feb. 8 when he comes to the district for a visitation day. Details on the visitation day were not available last week.

His first official day on the job will be July 1. In the meantime, however, Lamberson will work with the board members on the district’s new strategic planning effort.

“The board was extremely impressed by his collaborative approach, which is very important to the district,” said Board President Cheryl Berdelle. “I know we not miss a beat in educating the children of the district.”

Lamberson, who has many years of experience at both the elementary and high school levels, will earn $177,000 as the superintendent for District 96.

Lamberson, 50, served as superintendent at Lake Forest High School, which has 1,850 students, from 2000-04. During the 2004-05 school year, he requested a sabbatical from his duties as superintendent to do research as Lake Forest High School prepares to consolidate its’ district with the Lake Forest Elementary School District.

However, Lamberson was not interested in continuing as superintendent of a consolidated district. From 1997-2000, he had exactly that role as superintendent of Barrington Unit District 220, which served over 8,000 students. Consolidating the Lake Forest districts will create a district of approximately 3,000 students.

“It was not something that I looked at in a favorable way,” Lamberson said.

With regard to moving to a district of just over 1,200 total students, Lamberson said he viewed the size of District 96 as an advantage.

“It’s one of the things I’m looking forward to, to have a personal connection with everyone associated with the district,” he said.

Prior to working at in Barrington, Lamberson was associate superintendent for the New Trier schools from 1992-97. Before that he served eight years as an assistant superintendent and superintendent in Wisconsin, and three years as a science teacher in Downers Grove.

Lamberson lives in Libertyville with his wife, Karin. The couple has two children. Their daughter, Kristi, is a physical therapist and their son, Justin, is a graduate student at the University of North Texas.