The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 14, 2013

New faces fill school jobs


DANVILLE — Three familiar District 118 employees will take on different roles next school year.

Kimberly Norton, who is the assistant principal at North Ridge Middle School, was appointed Wednesday to serve as principal of Northeast Magnet Elementary School.

Brenda Yoho, who has been South View Middle School principal since 2008, will become District 118’s director of educational support on July 1.

Dianna Kirk, who is retiring from her associate superintendent position, will return July 1 as District 118’s director of human resources, a position she previously held from 2005 to 2009.

Superintendent Mark Denman said job postings for South View Middle School principal and assistant principal at North Ridge Middle School would go up soon.

Norton, who board members approved by a 7-0 vote, will fill a vacancy created when Northeast principal Cheryl McIntire left at the end of January, and Yoho and Kirk are filling vacancies left by Educational Support Director Diane Hampel and Human Resources Director Kathy Houpt, who both will retire at the end of the school year.

Denman said 17 applied for the Northeast principal position, while 10 applied to be educational support director and 12 applied to be director of human resources.

Norton, a Georgetown native, started her career in education as a language arts teacher in Watseka in 1995-1996 before teaching fourth grade at Armstrong-Ellis from 1996 to 2001, fourth grade in Berea, Ky., from 2003 to 2006, fourth grade in Westville in 2006-2007 and sixth grade at North Ridge Middle School from 2007 to 2009.

Norton also served as District 118’s curriculum coordinator from 2009 to 2012 before becoming assistant principal at North Ridge this school year.

“I am thrilled beyond words,” Norton said of her appointment as Northeast’s principal.

“I am looking forward to it,” she said. “I feel very blessed, and I look forward to meeting with the teachers.”

As curriculum director for the district, Norton said she has had to opportunity to visit Northeast several times.

“At Northeast, you get a feel for the family-like atmosphere and the collaboration there,” she said.

Denman said, “Mrs. Norton is an outstanding young educator with a strong knowledge base in instruction, superb organization skills, a commitment to doing what is best for students and an admirable work ethic.”

Norton’s recommended salary is $70,000, plus benefits.

Yoho started her career in education as a teaching assistant in the Georgetown-Ridge Farm school district between 1991 and 1997. She then became a fifth-grade/Title I teacher in the Georgetown-Ridge Farm district from 1997 to 2003 and served as assistant principal at Mary Miller Junior High School in Georgetown from 2003 to 2007, before coming to District 118 where she served as principal of Southwest Elementary School in 2006-2007 and has been principal at South View Middle School since 2008.

“It’s a great opportunity, and I feel very blessed,” Yoho said of her new role in the district.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of education and student learning, but I have big shoes to fill,” she said, referring to current director Diane Hampel

In the early part of her career, Yoho dealt with the predecessor to the current Title I program, so she has “had opportunities to explore curriculum and standards.”

“This is an opportunity to support staff and faculty and to facilitate the changes that are needed,” she added.

Denman said, “Mrs. Yoho brings varied building administrative experience to the table along with a strong knowledge of elementary and middle school curriculum. Her student-centered focus will serve the district well in her new position.”

The board voted 4-3 to approve her appointment, with Dan Brown, Steve Bragorgos and Frank Young casting the dissenting votes. Yoho’s recommended salary is $88,663, plus benefits.

Kirk started her career in education as a business teacher at Schlarman High School from 1977 to 1984. She then became the Job Training Partnership coordinator at VOTEC from 1984 to 1990 and was Youth Program Job Training Partnership coordinator at Danville Area Community College from 1990 to 1993.

She arrived in District 118 first as a tech prep coordinator at Danville High School from 1993 to 1995, then as a DHS dean from 1995 to 1997, an assistant principal at DHS from 1997 to 2001, principal of North Ridge Middle School in 2001-2002, principal of Liberty Elementary School from 2002 to 2005, director of human resources from 2005 to 2009 and has served as associate superintendent since 2009.

Denman said, “Mrs. Kirk’s proven experience in human resources and personnel management makes her an outstanding selection for this non-certified position, which will result in significant savings for this school district. Her professionalism and commitment are of the highest level.”

A few board members questioned the process by which Kirk, who is retiring as associate superintendent at the end of the current school year, was hired for a non-certified position.

“I like Mrs. Kirk, but I’ve got a problem with the process,” Brown said. “The district encourages them to retire and then hires them back to a non-certified position. “I oppose this, not because of Mrs. Kirk but because of the process.”

Bragorgos echoed Brown’s concerns.

“We have a senior employee in an executive role who comes back in another senior role,” he said via speaker phone from Kosovo where he is serving with the U.S. Army. “I don’t feel it’s appropriate. I think it’s an unwise practice to have.”

Dr. Randal Ashton, however, said he supported hiring Kirk for a position she had done for several years.

“It appears we don’t like the process, but we’re saving money,” he said of her hiring. “We’re not doing anything illegal and we’re getting good value for it.”

Fellow board member Greg Hilleary agreed with Ashton, adding that having Kirk stay in the district would be a good resource to have to help “cross-train” the new associate superintendent.

The board voted 4-3 to approve Kirk’s appointment. Brown, Bragorgos and Young cast the dissenting votes.

Kirk said after the board meeting she never intended to fully retire and intended to work somewhere.

“I didn’t care to retire totally,” she said.

Kirk said looked forward to returning to her former position.

“What is appealing to me is that you have influence over the quality of the workplace,” she said.

“I’ll do my personal best to recruit and retain the cream of the crop,” Kirk added. “It’s an exciting time in the district with a lot of change and I want to be part of that transition.”

Kirk’s recommended salary is $60,000, plus benefits.

Denman said the non-certified position is in a different retirement system than Kirk’s pension that she will draw from as a retired certified employee.