GLENVIEW – School District 34’s Board of Education recently approved hiring new principals Erik Friedman and Jeannie Sung for Pleasant Ridge and Westbrook Elementary Schools, respectively. Both said communication, collaboration and high achievement are top priorities.
From 45 applicants for Pleasant Ridge and 41 for Westbrook, parent/teacher groups and administrator groups interviewed 12 candidates for each role, whittling down to three and two finalists, respectively, for incoming Superintendent Dr. Dane Delli to interview. Friedman and Sung currently lead other elementary schools and begin their new roles July 1, 2017.
Friedman earned a bachelor’s degree at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and master’s degrees in social work at Loyola and administration and leadership at Concordia. He worked most of his career in Evanston/Skokie District 65, beginning as school social worker in 2002. Friedman advanced in 2010 to assistant principal of Washington Elementary School and rose in 2012 to principal of Walker Elementary School which he currently leads.
“Friedman has the experience and characteristics necessary to support the students and staff,” Delli said, and the, “ability to develop critical relationships with all stakeholder groups.”
Of the interview process, the incoming principal said, “I came to see both Pleasant Ridge and District 34 as warm and welcoming learning communities. Several of the questions and scenarios posed pointed to the importance of shared decision making and the desire for there to be processes for all stakeholders to have input in the educational process. I was excited to share my common belief that at the heart of a great school is a team spirit and collaborative nature.”
Of his past and new environments, Friedman said, “both communities have high expectations for their schools,” and, “that the everyday school experience is meaningful and rich with opportunities for children to stretch themselves and grow.”
He will change from a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school into a third-through-fifth school.
“In my current experience we are transitioning children as young as five into their first school experience and preparing children as old as 11 for their middle school experience,” Friedman explained. “I anticipate our professional conversations will be more focused since we share a tighter band of ages and grades in one school.”
He plans this summer to invite Pleasant Ridge staff to meet with him and share their perspectives, to learn their styles and collaborate.
“My first goal is to get to know the staff and students, and offer my assistance to them,” said Friedman. “I am a big advocate of social and emotional learning in schools. I’m curious to learn more specifically how District 34 and Pleasant Ridge formally address this important area for children.”
Sung earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois at Chicago and master’s
degree in educational leadership from Northeastern Illinois, and currently focuses on a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.
Not new to District 34, she taught ESL and math at Springman Middle School. She worked internationally as deputy head of academics and secondary principal at Asia Pacific International School in Korea, and elementary/middle school principal at Bandung Alliance International School in Indonesia. Locally, Sung also led as principal of South Middle School in Arlington Heights, principal of Liberty Elementary School in Bartlett, assistant principal at Lake Louise Elementary School in Palatine, and recently as elementary school principal at Shekou International School, in China. Sung’s husband’s career assignment brought them back to Chicago after five years in China.
“Sung’s wealth of administrative experience, both in our neighboring districts and schools outside of the United States, will greatly benefit both students and teachers,” Delli said. “During the interviewing process, she clearly demonstrated her ability to be a collaborative and strong leader with children always as her primary focus.”
The international principal offered insight on her style and a core commonality of families worldwide.
“While there may be some culturally driven differences in practices and perspectives, in the end, families have the same desire to support their children to be the best they can be as contributing members and leaders of society. As educators, it is our goal to understand and build relationships with our students and their families to partner in supporting all learners,” Sung said.
My first objective,” she added, “is to get to know all the members of the school community, starting with our little constituents, and build trusting relationships; without trusting relationships, we really can’t get anything done or make any positive changes. I will be engaged in many listening tours, asking a lot of questions, and becoming a contributing member of the Glenview 34 family.”