Brian Waterman

Despite a national search and after interviewing applicants from three states the Lyons Township High School District 204 Board of Education decided that the best person to replace Tim Kilrea as superintendent was about 100 feet down the hall and around a corner from Kilrea’s office.

On Feb. 16, the LTHS school board voted 6-0 to hire LTHS Principal Brian Waterman to succeed Kilrea as superintendent on July 1.

“I am humbled by the Board of Ed’s confidence in me, as has been said throughout the interview process,” Waterman said at the school board meeting immediately after being hired.

“I’m just really excited about the opportunity to lead this district, primarily because of the passion that I do have for LT and for our students, our staff and our community. We really do have the best students. They’re enthusiastic, they’re engaged and I know that they love this place too because they tell me all the time.

“We have amazing parents and community members who have the highest expectations, but who are also willing to sit right alongside us and support us while we strive for those expectations.”

Waterman, 46, is in his seventh year as principal at LTHS. He came to the school after having served as the principal of Hinsdale South High School for six years. Waterman began his career in education in 1999 as a business education teacher at Westmont High School.

In 2003, he became an assistant principal at Westmont, and two years later he moved on to become an assistant principal at Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream.

Waterman received a Bachelor of Science degree in business and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) both at Eastern Illinois University, a Master of Arts in educational leadership from North Central College and a doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in leadership and administration from Aurora University.

He was chosen from a small applicant pool of around 20 candidates. The search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates presented the school board with a list of eight candidates, seven of whom were interviewed. The three finalists then had second interviews before the school board decided to hire Waterman.

District 204 school board President Tom Cushing praised Waterman before the vote to hire him.

“He has demonstrated success and experience with diverse students and communities,” Cushing said. “Dr. Waterman embraces opportunities to collaborate and engage stakeholders in addressing challenging issues … He is a collaborative coalition builder eager to engage all voices. He is a powerful advocate for students and staff. He generally engages and authentically values teacher and student voice.”

Board member Jessica McLean said Waterman stood out from the competition. She praised Waterman’s character and described him as a modest person and a good listener.

Waterman will take over the top spot at LTHS at a challenging time as school officials work to do better on issues of equity and inclusion and to reduce the gap in academic achievement between white and Black and brown students.

“As principal, I am proud of the progress we have made from an academic, extra-curricular, school climate, and community engagement perspective,” Waterman said in a press release issued by LTHS after he was hired. “Working collaboratively with students, parents, and faculty and staff, the leadership team at LT has implemented a variety of programs resulting in increased student achievement and an emphasis on equity and access for all students. As superintendent, I look forward to working with our staff, students, and community to further increase our progress.”

Kilrea, who played no part in the superintendent search, praised Waterman after his selection.

“I think Brian has a lot of great potential,” Kilrea said. “He’s an excellent principal and I have seen no reason why he will not be an excellent superintendent.”

This is the second consecutive superintendent hire in which an LTHS school board chose to hire its superintendent from within.

Kilrea, who is retiring, was the school’s director of human resources when he was hired in 2009 to replace longtime Superintendent Dennis Kelly.

Waterman received a four-year contract. He will be paid $240,000 in his first year in that job, which will begin on July 1.