Working at dual-language school is nothing new for new Congress Park Elementary School Principal Amy Grieve. The 38-year-old spent the last eight years working at a dual-language school in Ecuador, where she also met her husband, Esteban, a native of Ecuador, and started a family.
“We’re a dual-language family,” Grieve told the Landmark in a telephone interview last week. “If you look at Congress Park, we’re living the vision here. We’re a bilingual family.”
Grieve replaces James Robinette, who led Congress Park School in Brookfield for four years before leaving this summer to take a job as the human resources director at County Club Hills School District 160.
For the last three years Grieve served as the middle school principal for a large private school in Quito, Ecuador, where instruction was both in English and Spanish.
She actually applied for the principal position at Park Junior High School in LaGrange-Brookfield District 102, but that job went to Jerome Green, who had been the assistant principal at Julian Middle School in Oak Park.
However, District 102 administrators were so impressed with Grieve that they hired her to be an assistant principal somewhere in the district, knowing that Robinette was looking for a job, so she would be available if Robinette left Congress Park.
“We anticipated that Dr. Robinette was looking for a position,” said District 102 Superintendent Kyle Schumacher.
When Robinette did get a new job in July, Schumacher slotted Grieve into the job there without interviewing anyone else or even taking applications.
“We actually interviewed her thinking about Congress Park, if a position ever opened up,” Schumacher said.
Grieve’s annual salary is $109,000 for the 11-month position while Green is making $112,000 at Park Junior High in LaGrange Park.
Grieve, who is the older sister of Riverside-Brookfield High School social sciences teacher Ryan Grieve, grew up in Elmhurst.
She earned her undergraduate degree from Trinity International University in 2008 and was awarded a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from the American College of Education in 2016.
Grieve has long had a passion for experiencing other cultures and wanted to live abroad, so she began her career as an English as Second Language teacher in Seoul, South Korea.
After a year there, she came back to the United States and worked for six months as a special education teacher’s aide at Jackson Middle School in Villa Park. Then Grieve went to Ecuador and worked for seven months as a third-grade teacher before returning to the United States and working for four years as a teacher at a charter school in Orlando, Florida.
She returned to Ecuador in 2014 and worked as a seventh-grade teacher for one year before becoming an elementary instructional facilitator for three years. Then she worked as a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher for a year before spending the last three years as the principal of the middle school.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Grieve, who is fluent in Spanish.
But in the back of her mind, she was always thinking about returning to the United States at some point.
“It’s always been in my plan to collect all of these experiences and bring them back here to this area,” Grieve said. “I was very attracted to District 102, their mission and their vision and just the value that they put into equity.”
Grieve is passionate about cross-cultural learning and bridging gaps among students and cultures. While she loved living and working in Ecuador, she wanted her husband and children to experience life in the U.S.
Her dual-language experience fits right in at Congress Park School, which is now in its fifth year offering an English-Spanish dual-language immersion program. According to the most recent Illinois School Report Card, 47.5 percent of Congress Park students are Hispanic while 36.9 percent are white and 8.5 percent are Black.
Although she initially interviewed for the Park Junior High School job, Grieve is happy that she landed at Congress Park.
“I think it’s a perfect fit for me,” Grieve said. “I think it’s a perfect fit for my experience and the skills that I’ve learned and for my passion.”