Last week, the Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 Board of Education voted unanimously to hire 32-year-old Kelly King as the K-2 principal at Brook Park, the culmination of a search process that’s been ongoing since February.
King will have administrative responsibility for kindergarten through second grade while Principal Michael Sorensen will be responsible for grades three through five at Brook Park, which is expected to have an enrollment of nearly 900 students next year.
“The sheer size of the building and the number of staff members that are in the building, just the volume of work, cannot be done by one building principal,” said District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski.
For the past three years King has been the instructional technology specialist at neighboring Riverside Elementary School District 96, where she has worked to creatively use technology in the classroom and developed inquiry-based curriculum.
King’s strong background in technology made her stand out among the 60 applicants for the new position.
“We just felt like Kelly had some particular strengths that would complement our existing administrative team,” Kuzniewski said. “She’s very heavy in instruction and in instructional technology.”
Kuzniewski said that technology was not a strength of the district’s current leadership team.
“We looked for someone to complement our team there,” Kuzniewski said.
King went through an extensive interview process, undergoing an initial screening interview, then an interview with the district’s leadership team when the field of candidates was winnowed down to five. She was one of three finalists interviewed separately by a committee of eight teachers and another committee of eight parents.
“Our teachers loved her, the parents loved her and our administrative team just saw her as the best fit to make us a stronger team,” Kuzniewski said.
King, who received a one-year contract that will pay her $85,000 next year, also met with the school board in closed session for 10 to 15 minutes on April 25 before they voted to hire her.
District 95 is in the midst of rolling out, somewhat later than some other districts, a one-to-one device program at its two schools. King will help continue implementation of that program.
“Integrating technology in a meaningful way is definitely one of my passions,” King told the Landmark.
At District 96 King developed innovative ways to use technology in the classroom and also helped develop inquiry-based curriculum. She ran a Google Boot Camp for the district’s teachers as the district transitioned from Apple MacBooks to Chromebooks.
“This coaching role in Riverside, I think, has really helped prepare me for building leadership,” King said.
District 96 Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Merryl Brownlow said King played a big role in developing a new elementary school science curriculum to conform to the Next Generation Science Standards.
“She’s been an instructional leader here in District 96 and she’s ready to take that step into a leadership role,” Brownlow said.
Next year King will oversee the District 95’s first year of full-day kindergarten.
“She had a really good, deep understanding of what the transition would be like from half-day to full-day kindergarten,” Kuzniewski said.
King worked for seven years in Indian Springs District 109 before being hired at District 96 three years ago. She began her career as a reading specialist then as a fifth-grade teacher at Brodnicki Elementary School in Justice.
King, whose mother was a long-time physical education teacher at Argo High School, grew up in Naperville and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Illinois State University.
She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of St. Francis in 2012. King thought she would become a lawyer until helping out in a second-grade classroom as part of a program her senior year of high school at Naperville Central.
King said that she will bring a collaborative approach to leadership to her new role.
“I think that building strong relationships with the staff and the students and the parents is really important,” King said.
“It’s sad to leave Riverside,” King added. “I’ve loved my three years there, but I’m really excited about starting in District 95, too.”