Once again, the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education has hired a high school administrator from the south suburbs for a key position.
On June 23, the school board voted 5 to 2 to hire Natacia Campbell to be the district’s curriculum director to replace Kelly Baas, who is leaving to take a job in Westchester.
Board members Joanne Schaeffer and Sharon Anderson voted against hiring Campbell, citing her lack of experience in elementary education.
Campbell has spent her entire career working on the high school level except for some part-time teaching at the college level. For the last nine years Campbell has served as the division chair for the Science, Applied Technology, and Family and Consumer Science division at Andrew High School in Tinley Park.
Superintendent Carol Keene Baker, who begins as the district’s new central office leader on July 1, has known Campbell for nearly a decade.
Baker has served for 10 years as the curriculum director for science and music at Community High School District 218. In that capacity, she worked with Campbell on committees that created and implementing the Next Generation Science Standards.
Baker also served on the school board of Community High School District 230, which includes Andrew High School, from 2009 until 2103, although she said that played no role in her recommending Campbell for the curriculum director position.
“She’s got extensive experience in curriculum, instruction and assessment,” said Baker. “She’s highly organized [and] she has experience working with integrating both the Common Core and NGSS [Next Generation Science Standards].”
Baker said that Campbell’s lack of experience in elementary education should not be a problem.
“At both of our levels, neither of us is going to be a first-grade classroom telling kids what to do or telling teachers what to do,” Baker said. “We’re here to provide organizational framework and leadership to help all teachers do the best that they can do.”
Campbell’s role will be to help teachers develop and implement curriculum.
“She’s going to be able to help teachers take their ideas of what should be taught and organize it and make sure that instruction is leading to strong assessments,” Baker said.
Campbell, 42, said her passion is teaching and curriculum. When questioned by Schaeffer before the vote, Campbell acknowledged that she has never taught at the elementary level, but she pointed to work she has done as a consultant with an elementary district and her work as a college instructor of elementary and middle school teachers.
“I haven’t taught at the elementary level, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the classroom even with my consulting work,” Campbell told the Landmark after the June 23 meeting.
Campbell began her career in education as a science teacher at Bloom Trail High School in Chicago Heights before moving to Andrew as a division chairwoman nine years ago.
Before becoming a teacher, she worked for a few years managing health clubs. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and education from Trinity Christian College, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Concordia University, and an Ed.D. from Walden University, an online, for-profit university based in Minnesota.
Campbell was interviewed for the position by Baker; former Interim Superintendent Kyle Hastings, who will stay on to be a part-time assistant superintendent next year; and Kevin McCaffrey, who was hired this spring as interim superintendent.
Campbell said she was not scared away by the divisions on the school board and said that she is not interested in politics.
“I’ve learned quickly as I got into education that politics is big, and I’ve very much so stayed out of it,” Campbell said. “I don’t do politics. I really do my job and focus on the people that I’m serving.”
Campbell is taking a pay cut to come to District 103. Her salary will be $99,500. She had been making $102,497 as division chair at Andrew.
But Campbell said that the pay cut was worth it to become a curriculum director and to work with a more diverse student population.
“It’s something that I love,” Campbell said. “Coming from Bloom Trail, I worked with a real diverse population, and in the work that I do with the National Science Teachers Association I’ve been working with their multicultural and equity committee so this also gives me an opportunity to work with a diverse population again.
“I feel like I’m actually doing more good. I really like being involved in not just talking the talk, but walking the walk as well.”