New St. Elmo Superintendent Julie Healy officially took the reins of the district on July 1. She is the former superintendent of the North Wayne district, based out of Cisne, Ill. Healy brings with her three decades of experience in education andover 10 years of experience in administration.
Though busy getting settled in her new position, Healy was gracious enough to answer a few questions about herself, her career, and her vision for her new district.
1. Please provide your professional background.
I taught high school science for 18 years before becoming involved in administration. I then served as elementary principal (Pre-K – 8th grade) for 7 years and as high school principal for 2 years. For the past 3 years, I have served in a dual role as superintendent/middle school principal.
2. Please provide your personal background.
I grew up in Effingham, where my father served as an educational administrator for 37 years. He instilled in me the importance of education and the desire to pursue a career in this field. My husband Scott and I have six children:
Meredith (husband, Collin Gardner)—Speech/Language Pathologist at Lake Land Rehab.
Morgan—Science Teacher at Effingham High School
Miles—Financial Analyst at J.P. Morgan in New York
Mitch—Sophomore at Lake Land College
Matthew—Freshman at Lake Land College
Madison—Senior at North Clay High School
We also have one grandson, Quinn.
3. What led you to take the position at St. Elmo?
The district has a great reputation! In my previous position, I served in a dual role—this position will allow me to focus more on the duties of the superintendent. The fact that I am from Effingham and have family in the area was also a determining factor.
4. What do you see are the strengths of the St. Elmo district?
Being from this geographical area, I know that the St. Elmo school district has always had an excellent reputation. The district offers strong academic, vocational, and athletic programs. I feel that the greatest strength is the people working in the district. They are caring individuals who want to provide the best education for the students. Also, St. Elmo is a very close-knit community and is very supportive of the educational system.
5. What are challenges facing the schools?
I think the biggest challenge facing St. Elmo schools is the uncertainty of funding. Fortunately, the board and administration have been proactive in looking for ways to reduce spending while still providing the best educational opportunities possible.
6. What are the strengths you bring to the position of superintendent?
My experience as a teacher, as well as an administrator in all grade levels, is a professional strength. I strive to always make decisions based upon what is best for the students.
7. What is your focus this summer?
My focus this summer is to become more familiar with specific operations within the district. I am looking forward to meeting all of the employees, and I am excited to be a part of the St. Elmo educational team.
8. What role should technology play in education?
Technology should be used to supplement classroom learning activities. This provides many additional opportunities for our students. In addition, technology is becoming much more prevalent in society, and it is imperative that our students have the skills needed to excel in this area.
9. How does the State of Illinois budget situation affect a district like St. Elmo?
Like I mentioned earlier, the uncertainty with funding makes it very difficult to plan. Fortunately, the St. Elmo district has been proactive in this area. The district finances will continue to be closely monitored as they have been in the past.
10. In an age of increased testing/evaluation and federal control of schools, how do you empower both students and teachers to take a stake in the educational process?
The emphasis on testing/evaluation often serves as an area of frustration for students and staff. I believe that students and staff members are empowered by building positive relationships between all stakeholders. While the duties and responsibilities vary, each member of the educational team plays a vital role in the success of our school. As educators, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to do what is best for our students.