By Steve Robinson | January 13, 2020 - 10:23 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL – After two rounds of interviews with candidates in December to find a successor to District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel, Normal-based Unit 5 School Board introduced Dr. Kristen Kendrick-Weikle as the person who will become the district’s 13th superintendent since the district was founded in 1948. By being approved by a 6-1 vote during a special School Board session Monday at district headquarters, Dr. Kendrick-Weikle also makes history by becoming the second female superintendent in the district’s history.

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle will assume her duties as superintendent on July 1, succeeding Dr. Daniel, who has served as superintendent since July 1, 2014. Dr. Daniel announced in September that he and his wife had just become first-time grandparents, and were desiring to move to the Chicago area to be closer to family. The Board began a search for Dr. Daniel’s successor shortly afterward.

While Board President Barry Hitchins, joined by Board Members Mike Trask, Meta Mickens-Baker, Taunia Leffler, Alan Kalitzky, and Amy Roser by voting in the affirmative for Dr. Kendrick-Weikle, Board Member Dr. Kelly Pyle cast the lone opposing vote.

Following the vote, Dr. Kendrick-Weikle told the gathering, “I’ve always held Unit 5 in high regard and I’m happy at where I’m at but when Unit 5 became open, it was just too intriguing to pass up. I’m excited to get know you better and work with you, and really do great things for our kids.”

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle is currently superintendent at Warrensburg Latham District 11, which is smaller than Unit 5, with just an elementary school, junior high, and high school, the combined K-12 population within the three schools is 973 students, according to the website niche.com.

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle will start at Unit 5 with a three-year contract with a salary of $185,000. She has previously served as director of special education for Special Education Association of Adams County and was a principal in Quincy Public Schools. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, both from Quincy University. She earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Western Illinois University.

Dr. Kendrick-Weikle and her husband, Skip, are parents to six children ranging from a junior in high school to a 26-year-old and have one grandchild.

Media were informed by Hitchins there were 32 applicants for the position which Oak Park-based search firm School Exec Connect narrowed to six candidates to start. After a first round of interviews with Board members, that number was reduced to three before the Board selected Dr. Kendrick-Weikle during sessions that covered five days in December.

Before the vote was taken at Monday’s meeting, Trask told the gathering of around 40 people present for the process for selecting a new superintendent involved each member not having tunnel vision toward their own views and listening to the viewpoints of the other six Board members.

Selecting a new superintendent “is not a process to take lightly,” added Mickens-Baker, who reminded the gathering this was her third time to experience it. “Please know we took the process seriously in the process of deciding which candidate was the best fit given the profile that our community, Board, and staff had developed,” she added. “I look forward to working with you.”

Mickens-Baker the search firm which brought candidates to Unit 5, Oak Park-based School Exec Connect, “did a really good job of preparing us for the challenge of finding superintendents.” She added each of the other superintendent candidates could have brought something to Unit 5.

In explaining her opposing vote to the gathering, and addressing Dr. Kendrick-Weikle directly, Dr. Pyle said she had “tremendous respect for the work you have done at Warrensburg-Latham.”

“It was a very difficult decision, and trying to match them up with a profile of who we thought would be the best person for Unit 5 was a difficult time,” Leffler admitted. “We tried to bring you the best candidate for Unit 5 and we think we’ve done that.”

“This wasn’t just a seven-person responsibility to find a new leader for our school district,” Kalitzky said. “This was an entire community’s responsibility.”

Hitchins, following the meeting, said he was impressed by Dr. Kendrick-Weikle opinions concerning “communication and relationship building. That’s what I think she will bring to this table.”

Second Woman Superintendent in Unit 5 History: Some may be wondering if Dr. Kendrick-Weikle is the first woman to serve as superintendent for the district. Fact is, she is not. Dr. Carol Struck served as interim superintendent for Unit 5 from August 1, 1989 until June 11, 1990.

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