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UPDATED: D161 Board Fills Administrative Openings at Summit Hill, Hilda Walker

The Summit Hill school board approved hiring Pam Hodgson as the new principal of Summit Hill Junior High School and Dana Wright as assistant principal at Hilda Walker Intermediate School.

  • UPDATED (12:18 p.m. Tuesday, June 19): Response from board member Geroge Perros.

After a closed-session interview process the same evening, the board of education approved Wednesday, June 13, the hiring of two women to fill administrative openings at and schools.

Pam Hodgson, the current principal at in Orland Park, was hired as the new principal of Summit Hill. She was approved by a 4-0 vote, with board members Denise Lenz and George Perros abstaining. Board member Sean William Doyle was absent for the meeting.

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In an e-mail response, Perros said he abstained because of an administrative and procedural issue, but because it was an issue discussed in closed session, he couldn't give details. He added that his abstaining vote had nothing to do with Hodgson or her qualifications. 

Hodgson, who was approved unanimously by the board, replaces former Principal Beth Lind. Her resignation, along with the resignation of Principal Paula Sereleas, was approved by the board earlier during Wednesday's meeting. Hodgson starts her job July 2.

Dana Wright, a 12-year teaching veteran in the district who is currently at , was unanimously approved by the board to fill the assistant prinicpal position at Hilda Walker. She joins the school's new principal, Michael Ruffalo, the former principal who was moved to Walker in April as part of some administration reshuffling caused by the closing of Mary Drew Elementary School and . Wright starts her new position Aug. 6.

During Wednesday's meeting, the board also approved the retirement of former Principal Christine Carey. Earlier in the day, Carey sent an e-mail to district parents announcing her retirement, effective June 30, calling it a "difficult decision." (Editor's note: You can read the entire letter in this article's media gallery, under the PDF tab.)

"I have come to know and love your children and have been honored [to] have the privilege to work with you these past eight years," she wrote in the e-mail.

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As part of April's administrator moves, Carey was set to join former Mary Drew Principal Kathy Klein at Rogus in a joint principal position in 2012-13.

This currently leaves principal openings at Rogus and Arbury Hills.

Here's a look at the background of Wednesday's new hires:

Pam Hodgson

Position: Principal, Summit Hill Junior High School
Residence: Homer Glen
Experience: She has been the principal at Jerling Junior High School in Orland Park for the past four years. Before that, she served as assistant principal at Thornton Fractional South High School in Lansing for four years. Hodgson also worked as a dean and math teacher at Thornton Fractional.
What Attracted Her to the Summit Hill Position? Hodgson said she was impressed with the district's plan for instructional improvement and academic achievement. She was also impressed by district Supt. Barb Rains and her leadership.
Getting Started: Hodgson said she'll begin the transition process of moving from one school district to the other right away. Over the summer, she said she will meet with faculty to learn about and understand the culture at Summit HIll. "I want to get out and listen and talk with the staff," she said.
Start Date: July 2

Dana Wright

Position: Assistant principal, Hilda Walker Middle School
Residence: Palos Hills
Experience: Wright has been a teacher in the Summit Hill district for 12 years. Last school year, she was a third-grade teacher at Indian Trail Elementary School, where she's taught since 2009. She's also taught at Frankfort Square and Rogus schools.
What Attracted Her to the Walker Position? "To be able to help kids on a greater scale," Wright said. As a teacher, she said was able to impact the educational lives of just the students in her classroom. But as an assistant principal, she said she can now make a difference with even more children.
Getting Started: Wright said she wants to jump right in, getting to know the students and staff at the school. Because she's been a longtime teacher in the district, Wright said there's a familiarity in her new role. She's worked with Principal Michael Ruffalo when she taught at Rogus and he was the principal there, and she will have taught some of the kids who will be attending Walker in the fall. Wright said she expects there to be a learning curve when she begins, but she said she's very excited—and humbled—that the board gave her the opportunity.
Start Date: Aug. 6

Read the live blog from Wednesday night's meeting for other items discussed. Also, check back over the next few days for updates on this story and information on other board topics.

 

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Renee Colton June 16, 2012 at 01:56 PM
First of all Mrs. Lind was a fine principal in the district and I do not believe that she willingly resigned. She was FORCED to resign. Second, there were plenty of qualified candidates within the Summit HIll District to take over the position of principal. What makes Pam Hodgson the most qualified candidate? She is coming from Orland Park and TF. She does not have a clue as to what the Summit Hill District is about. The article states that Pam Hodgson was "impressed" by the work of Barbara Rains. Seriously? My opinion is that Pam and Barbara are buddies, perhaps old college buddies. Nonetheless, Pam should take great caution while working in this district because Mrs. Lind's "resignation" is very questionable.
Citizen June 20, 2012 at 03:01 PM
What kind of salary are we paying Pam Hodgson? In 2011 Orland District 135 paid her about 123K- I think that's what we are paying our Assistant Superintendent Jim Martin. Did she take a pay cut to join Summit hill 161?

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