DANVILLE – Prior to becoming the new assistant regional superintendent of schools last month, Courtney Dudley had spent two decades as a teacher and an assistant principal in school districts in Vermilion County.

Dudley, a Vermilion County native and graduate of Oakwood High School, took over the role of assistant superintendent of the Vermilion County Regional Office of Education on July 1. She replaces Aaron Hird who is now the regional superintendent of schools.

Dudley’s experience in education has been entirely in Vermilion County, starting with teaching high school math for 15 years in Westville and, most recently, as the assistant principal for five years at Oakwood Grade School.

Dudley will work closely with the administrators of the school districts in Vermilion County and serve as a liaison between the local districts and the Illinois State Board of Education.

“I’m still learning my new role, but my goal is to provide opportunities for the area, for our students and for our families,” she said.

Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge facing Vermilion County school districts is how to safely reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since I arrived July 1, reopening schools has been a priority,” she said. “We’ve been getting out information and troubleshooting with our local administrators.

“It’s been challenging for educators and administrators, but educators are resilient,” Dudley said. “They are trying to make the best decisions with the information they have, but the information is always changing.

“Aaron Hird and I have been on conference calls with other regional offices about the COVID-19 guidelines,” she said. “We also give our local administrators a place to bounce ideas off one another and help them to reopen schools the best way that they can.”

Dudley’s job also entails being in charge of the annual Vermilion County Spelling Bee — sponsored by the Regional Office of Education, the Commercial-News and Danville Area Community College — which takes place every February at DACC.

“I’m looking forward to getting out and seeing the schools and working with them,” she said. “I want to work with them to see how we can help the students and the communities.”

Dudley and her husband and fellow Vermilion County native, John Dudley, have two sons, 13-year-old Jackson, who will be an eighth-grader at Oakwood Junior High, and 11-year-old Carsen, who will be a sixth-grader at Oakwood Grade School.

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