Tag: principal

Panel discussion to address tough issues facing local schools, teachers and students

Douglas Moeller, Steven Koch, Erika Schlichter

The NIU College of Education’s ongoing Community Learning Series continues Thursday, Oct. 22 when the college welcomes back three distinguished alumni to share their experiences as educators and school administrators and provide insights into what it takes to be successful in today’s classrooms.

The guests will also provide an “on-the-ground” look at some of the pressing issues facing local schools and school districts, including the impact of the Illinois budget crisis, Common Core and student testing.

Dr. Brad Hawk, assistant professor in the COE’s Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Leadership as well as a former school superintendent himself, will moderate the panel, which includes:

  • Douglas Moeller, superintendent, DeKalb School District 428
  • Erika Schlichter, chief academic officer, District 158
  • Steven Koch, principal, Prairie Ridge High School

“All of our guests have been highly successful teachers who have moved up through the system, through a variety of jobs at a variety of districts,” Hawk said. “Their comments will be valuable to anyone seeking a career as a teacher but also for teachers – prospective or veteran – who are interested in taking on administrative roles.”

The discussion will also appeal to parents and others who are interested in critical issues facing local schools and districts.

“The chance to talk with such highly placed and influential leaders in education will give us a clear view into what’s really happening in our schools,” he said.

“Dr. Moeller, for example, will discuss financial issues that are now affecting local districts here and around the state,” he said, adding that Schlichter is an expert on Common Core standards and high-stakes testing, while Koch’s Prairie Ridge High School has become the model for student performance in recent years. The discussion will include an extensive question and answer session.

What: Community Learning Series: Leadership in the Classroom

Where: Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center, 231 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb, IL

Date: Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015

Time: 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.: Networking reception with light hors d’oeuvres; 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.: Panel discussion and Q&A

The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available for all attendees in the lot adjacent to the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center. Please RSVP to Paul Baker at pbaker@niu.edu or 815-753-8434.

 

Meet our distinguished panelists:

Dr. Steven Koch joined District 155 in 2001 as a Prairie Ridge English teacher. He served as English department chairman from 2005 until 2008, when he assumed his role as the district’s director of staff development. He returned to Prairie Ridge as the school’s fourth principal in July 2013. Dr. Koch received both a B.A. degree in secondary English education with a minor in rhetoric and a M.A. degree in English literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has both an Educational Specialist degree and a Type 75 certification from Northern Illinois University. Koch earned his Ed.D. degree from NIU for his work concentrating on public school officials’ authority over student cyberspeech. Koch’s wife, Katie, is a member of the District 155 math faculty, and together they have three children.

Dr. Douglas J. Moeller is the superintendent of schools for DeKalb Community Unit School District (CUSD) 428. The day after graduating from Elgin High School, in Elgin Ill., he left home to begin six years of service in the United States Marine Corps. Upon completing his military service, Dr. Moeller attended Northern Illinois University and earned a B.S. degree in mathematics and economics. He immediately found employment as a corporate actuary, and spent nine years working for both Kemper Corporation and Allstate Insurance Company’s International Reinsurance Division. Although this profession was monetarily rewarding, it was not personally fulfilling. His wife, Christine, was an elementary school teacher, and seeing the positive impact she was having on the lives of children, Dr. Moeller made a career change to teach.

He began his career in education as a mathematics teacher at Gifford Street High School, an alternative high school located in Elgin School District U-46. During this time, Dr. Moeller also worked as an adjunct instructor for Elgin Community College teaching Calculus, Differential Equations, and Probability & Statistics. He then served as a dean of students and chair of the special education department at Elgin High School. His last position in U-46 was as the school district’s director for mathematics and science.

Dr. Moeller joined DeKalb CUSD 428 in 2009 as the principal of DeKalb High School. While serving in this position he worked on the construction of, and opened, the new DeKalb High School in the fall of 2011. Before assuming his current position, Dr. Moeller was the assistant superintendent for curriculum and student services in DeKalb. He holds a Ph.D. degree in educational organization and leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Now in her 19th year as an educator, Dr. Erika Schlichter is beginning her second year as the chief academic officer for Huntley Community School District 158, a large unit district in McHenry County. In this role she collaborates to provide leadership in all aspects of teaching and learning for the district. She comes to this position having served in curriculum leadership, human resources leadership, high school building administration, and high school teaching roles in several large unit districts in the greater Chicago area.

Dr. Schlichter is a graduate of NIU and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After receiving a B.A. degree in history and Spanish from UW-Madison, she went on to a career in education and simultaneously pursued graduate work at NIU. She holds multiple degrees from NIU, including an M.S.Ed. degree in curriculum and instruction-secondary education, an M.S.Ed. degree in education administration, and an Ed.D. degree in education administration.



Alumni profile: Meet Mina Blazy

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Mina Blazy

If you had asked Mina Blazy if she aspired to be a teacher back while she was a student at Proviso East High School, she would have told you “no.”

But the fond memories of a 10th grade chemistry teacher at that high school continue to inspire her hands-on approach to teaching – teaching science especially — today.
“You’d go by his class and he’d be lighting something on fire,” she said. “We made candy from a chemical equation in his class. I had the most fun in that classroom. He made science come alive.”

When that teacher retired and learned that Blazy (B.S. Ed. Elementary Education ’99) was teaching, he sent her all of his lessons.

Earlier this year Blazy opened the Gus Franklin Jr. STEM Academy, in Victorville, Calif., where she is currently principal.

“The academy is a huge success,” she said of its launch. “We have students from kindergarten through sixth grade learning and exploring engineering concepts through project-based learning.”

Blazy’s passion for teaching and learning through science is infused into every aspect of the school. Her students are learning about flight in space in third grade, and how to use software in fifth and sixth grades, plus the elementary school has engineering and science labs. This year, the school will launch a new project where students will manipulate a radio telescope as part of the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) Program. The project is a partnership between the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Lewis Center for Educational Research. In addition, they will look at space for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. The data they study will be part of the Juno Project, which is named for a satellite that was launched towards Jupiter and will go live next summer.

“It’s another hands-on science project, where they will get to manipulate it from the school site,” she said.

Blazy’s path to becoming a classroom innovator didn’t happen overnight. After growing up in Broadview, Ill., she attended the University of Dubuque and learned to be a pilot.

“I flew planes for a while, got married, had kids, and just decided to go into education,” she said. “My husband was actually the one who pointed out to me that I had a natural ability to teach.”

Blazy’s mother – a registered nurse – and uncle had attended NIU, so she applied. A counselor told her that she should focus on teaching science or math, so she minored in biology.

After graduation, she taught high school science in the Chicago suburbs for a few years, before moving to Ohio and then California to continue her career. Soon, Blazy will begin pursuing her doctoral degree in STEM education.

“Science helps you think about your thinking,” she said. “That’s why I decided I wanted to focus on STEM.”

Throughout her career, Blazy said she has worked with and observed educators at all skill levels.

“What I have learned is that NIU gave me a true foundation in the education arena, and the necessary skills to help guide teachers to become extremely successful,” she said.