After sharing the job of Komarek School principal with Caitlin DiLallo this year, Diane Michelini will be the sole principal of the K-8 institution in North Riverside next year.
Michelini, 38, who has also served as Komarek’s dean of students for the past two years, has spent much of her life at Komarek. She went to kindergarten, first and second grades at Komarek before her family moved from North Riverside to LaGrange Park. She has worked at Komarek since 2008, teaching junior high math and science before becoming the dean of students two years ago.
“I’ve been part of this community for a long time,” Michelini said. “I really enjoy this community in general including the students, parents, staff. … I’m just thrilled to continue working with this community.”
DiLallo will stay at Komarek School in her role as director of student services, overseeing the school’s special education services in addition to other duties.
“It was really more about the strengths of our current staff,” Komarek District 94 Superintendent Todd Fitzgerald said about making Michelini the sole principal. “Moving to a more traditional model with one principal made sense. It really came down to how to divide up responsibilities.”
The co-principal model was a stopgap measure after former Principal Jason Gold resigned late last year. Gold is now the principal of Fox Meadow Elementary School in South Elgin.
Fitzgerald was taking over as superintendent as Gold was leaving and was not familiar with the Komarek staff, so rather than try to make a rushed pick at principal last year he decided to let Michelini and DiLallo share the job and continue in their other jobs to maintain continuity.
Michelini and DiLallo had to deal with the unprecedented challenge of helping run a school during a pandemic this year.
“It’s been an interesting year to say the least,” Michelini said. “All in all, for as unique as it was, it went very well.”
Komarek started the school with all-remote learning but switched to a hybrid model last fall. Currently about half of Komarek students attend school in person for half days. Those students not attending in person in the hybrid model have continued with 100 percent remote learning throughout 2020-21.
Michelini received a two-year contract and will be paid $94,382 next year.
Meanwhile, he school’s reading specialist and literacy coach, Danielle Bagdzius, has been promoted to new role as a combination dean of students and instructional coach.
“It’s just a change of title, role and responsibilities,” Fitzgerald said.