The Brookfield-Lyons District 103 school board chose a familiar face to be its next superintendent. Monday night the District 103 school board voted unanimously to hire its current curriculum director, Mary Jo Vladika, as superintendent effective July 1.

Michael Warner, the current superintendent, is retiring at the end of the school year after six years at the helm in District 103. District 103 serves the southeastern part of Brookfield.

Vladika will be the first woman to serve as District 103 superintendent. She was chosen from a field of more than 50 candidates in a search process that was conducted for the school board by the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Details of the three-year contract were not immediately available Monday night. The Landmark requested a copy of the superintendent’s contract, but was told to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy.

Judging by the number of hugs she received Monday from school board members, teachers and parents Vladika was a popular choice for the job of superintendent.

“The board decided that she was the best fit, the best candidate,” said District 103 school board President David DeLeshe.

Vladika has been curriculum director at District 103 for the past five years. Before that she was an assistant superintendent at the Summit Hills School District in Frankfort for one year and was a principal for 15 years in three different school districts and was an elementary school teacher for 15 years.

Vladika said she is planning to continue the improvement the district has made under Warner.

“I’m looking forward to building on our strengths,” Vladika said.

She said that being an insider who has worked for the district for the past five years will be an advantage.

“I think it’s a plus,” Vladika said. “There’s a certain momentum that’s been built up since I’ve been here and since Dr. Warner has been here, so together we have built this. My mantra is building on our strengths, because there are so many good things in place right now that we can shore up and also add to.”

Warner said that Vladika’s work as curriculum director has played a large part in the district’s improving test scores and said that she brought uniformity and consistency to the district’s curriculum.

“She brought semblance to our curriculum,” Warner said. “We didn’t have a well-mapped curriculum. Everybody kind of did what they thought they should be doing, and she has worked very hard to get people to work together and say, ‘This is what we need to be teaching at each grade level.'”

Vladika knew that she wanted to be a teacher since she in the first grade at St. Viator grammar school on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Her first grade teacher, Sister Corlita, was her inspiration.

“She was kind and caring and I learned, and I thought she was the greatest thing, and I said, ‘I want to be a teacher when I grow up,'” Vladika said.

Vladika has a friendly and outgoing personality and likes to plunge in and just do what needs to be done.

“I’m very much kind of a shirt-sleeves administrator,” Vladika said. “I just do whatever it takes.”

Warner said that the board made a wise choice in hiring Vladika as superintendent.

“She loves this community and the kids here and the parents here,” Warner said. “She’s a great fit for this job.”