D97 announces principal assignments for Mann, Whittier

Board to approve hires on May 27


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By Terry Dean

Staff Reporter

Oak Park elementary school District 97 has announced that administrator Faith Cole will become the new principal of Mann Elementary School, while Whittier Elementary will receive CPS administrator Keshia Warner as its new leader. 

Supt. Al Roberts finalized the two assignments Friday. The announcement as well as a joint statement from the two apointees were also released Friday. The D97 school board will take action on the appointments May 27.

"We are incredibly honored that Dr. Roberts is recommending us for appointment, and look forward to being at the meeting on Tuesday night for the completion of this exciting process," Cole and Warner said. 

Both were announced two weeks ago as Roberts' principal choices, but the superintendent had not yet decided which school each would join. Cole, a 10-year D97 teacher and administrator, is currently an assistant principal at Julian Middle School, 416 S. Ridgeland Ave. Warner is currently the principal at Drake Elementary School in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood.

Cole, a native of Oak Park, will become principal of the elementary school she attended, which could be a first for the Oak Park school district. D97 spokesperson Chris Jasculca said he could not say with certainty if Cole is the first ever principal in district history to serve the school she attended as a student. 

Cole told Wednesday Journal last week that she didn't have a preference of either school and that both were great assignments. The Journal was unable to reach Warner at her school for comment. Their appointments were announced May 13. Roberts at the time praised both candidates for their experience and commitment to students. 

In Friday's statement, Roberts said he was pleased to recommend both to their respective assignments. 

"While a number of highly-qualified professionals applied for these openings, they stood out above the rest," he said. 

Cole has been assistant principal at Julian since 2012, and previously served two years as a teacher leader/mentor in the district, in addition to teaching kindergarten. After earning a bachelor's degree in elementary and special education from Lewis University, Cole earned a master's in leadership from Northeastern University. She's currently working on her doctorate in teacher leadership.

Cole attended Mann, Julian and Oak Park and Rive Forest High School, where she later coached girls varsity basketball.

A graduate of Chicago's Whitney Young High School, Warner has been principal at Drake for three years and previously served as an assistant principal there. She earned a bachelor's degree in English Arts from Hampton University in Virginia, as well as a master's in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She received her master's degree in administration and supervision from National Louis University in Chicago.   

Drake serves about 500 kids in grades K-8. 

D97 Cole and Warner Press Release

Reader Comments

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Mann parent from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: May 23rd, 2014 4:00 PM

Can't believe this is getting rehashed. Once again...the district is precluded by state law from releasing employment related confidential information. It is the law....not a conspiracy. Mr. LeDeaux is not confined by this same restriction. He could have shared his review or even spoken up on his own behalf. He chose not to. Congratulations to both of these women....wishing you only the best.


Posted: May 18th, 2014 1:10 PM

The fact is that either one of these women could be having this article written about them today just to find themselves on the "other side"in two yrs!!! Roberts and the board should be held accountable for approving these folks unanimously and then letting them go within a short amount of time. Something is clearly broken.


Posted: May 17th, 2014 8:52 PM

My bet is thst Warner will go to Mann and Cole to Whittier.


Posted: May 16th, 2014 3:35 PM

First, whatever issues we have with Roberts and the Board have nothing to do with Cole. she is bright, talented and pretty awesome from what I have seen at Julian. We need to move on and ask the right questions like "what is the OP97 Board/Roberts doing to really move the needle?". How do we know that improvements are bing made? Do they have any flipping idea what they are doing? - All of this noise has drowned out the fact that we are devolveing in district 97. Yes, above average but nowhe

R Lerner  

Posted: May 16th, 2014 3:11 PM

If what Mr. Traczyk said in his comment is accurate, that the decision will be based in part on input from Cole and Warner, perhaps the pro-LeDeaux, anti-district Mann faction should consider that when posting on here. If this keeps up, nobody in their right mind, no matter how talented they are, would want to walk into this situation. You also might want to keep in mind that neither of them have been appointed by the board. There is still time for them to back out.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2014 2:16 PM

Raw. Atrocious. Debacle. Hyperbole much? Pages from the diary of Anne Frank. I'm sure between violin lessons, soccer tournaments and math enrichment, junior will be able to pick up the pieces of his shattered world. Here's something you may want to model: "it sucks things didn't go the way I wanted, but I've moved on and plan to welcome and support the next principal." But no, for you, she should indeed be ready. Best wishes to both women.


Posted: May 16th, 2014 1:16 PM

It's still a raw issue for parents and staff who had great relationships with Sam LeDeaux and found him to be a terrific principal. Yes, we hope that these two are just as terrific (apparently they're interchangeable??), but the District's atrocious handling of this whole debacle makes it difficult. Lots of anger and unanswered questions ... I hope whomever ends up at Mann is ready for it.

SMH in Oak Park  

Posted: May 16th, 2014 11:59 AM

I wish the WJ would disable comments sometimes. Why can't we just support and celebrate the achievements of these two devoted educators, and wish them well in their promotions? Can you imagine Ms. Cole wanting to send this article to family/ friends yet deciding not to because of the negative and unnecessary bantering in the comments section? This isn't the place for it. Didn't you get enough out of your systems with the other WJ articles a few weeks ago? Some of you should be ashamed. Truly.

Katherine from Oak Park  

Posted: May 16th, 2014 10:36 AM

Seems the real problem is over-reliance on the shield of "employee confidentiality." If nobody is allowed to discuss what happens in a situation of a principal's dismissal, how is the public to know whether there's a valid reason for that dismissal? It's a recipe for rule (actual or perceived) by tyrannical whim of the supt. Policies should permit school principals to be treated as the public figures they truly are, not as any garden-variety worker whose privacy trumps all else.

Rick from Chicago  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 5:07 PM

Mrs. Warner is a gem! Her priority has been and will continue to be the students she serves. She truly believes that all students can thrive, flourish and reach fuller expressions of their own humanity when supported. She believes that the work of educating our youth is made possible with parents as partners. She respects and supports the professionalism of teachers. I know b/c I've had the pleasure of being a teacher under her leadership for the past four years at Drake. Congrats Oak Park!

Scratching Head  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 5:06 PM

These 2 hires have no more exceptional qualities, if as much, than Sam LeDeaux has. Still wondering what,how,why that decision was made. The Board and supt should be ashamed for allowing a young, successful, existing, well liked principal go that had so much to still give to this district. Oak Park schools are the real loser. Its equivalent to a GM not signing a great ball player only to have him/her go on to great things for another team. Wake up people.


Posted: May 15th, 2014 4:15 PM

Hi Katherine, you must be new around here. Here is the gist: Anytime the word "Mann" is mentioned, a bunch of trolls come on to bash the PTO and blame the world's problems on them. Because, you know, it's way more effective to vent in anonymous online forums than actually volunteering yourself toward making a difference.


Posted: May 15th, 2014 3:58 PM

Yeah, thanks to all the PTO dupes at Mann who got their outgoing a principal a settlement agreement from D97! Good use of our tax $, right? Any chance the Mann PTO leadership ever realize they were played? Yeah, we need more of that type of PTO leadership around here.

Katherine from Oak Park  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 3:45 PM

@Mary OP....why better? I'm genuinely puzzled. At least a PTO is usually a collective of people who care deeply about what happens in the school, rather than a single individual who prefers to disregard viewpoints of teachers and parents alike whenever they conflict with his personal agenda.

Mary OP  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 1:36 PM

I agree Kate, however, better to be Roberts or any Superintendent lackey then a PTO lackey. Look how well that turned out for some people. Good luck to both. Cole, please don't change who you are & fall for the "PTO pressure" at Whittier or Mann.

Roberts Retirement  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 9:53 AM

Yes please.


Posted: May 15th, 2014 9:45 AM

These women both sound highly qualified. Hope they're prepared to be Roberts lackeys or they won't last long in D97 ...


Posted: May 15th, 2014 9:25 AM

Why do I get the impression that Dr Roberts is about to set sail into retirement?

Peter Traczyk from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2014 8:51 AM

Dr. Roberts said at the Board table that he was giving the candidates an additional chance to visit each school and that he would take their indications of preference into his decision. Both candidates were very highly regarded by the interview teams that included parents from each school.


Posted: May 14th, 2014 9:11 PM

Please stop being so simple. Of course he knows but he is slow playing it to make sure it does not blow up. Cole to Mann..


Posted: May 14th, 2014 6:56 PM

No doubt Cole has many positive attributes however, my years in this town have made me cautious about educators who have never left Oak Park from the time they were little. No matter how "good" a person they are, in my experience they have little awareness of practices or innovations from beyond our borders - or the ability to see OP as anything other than "the best of all possible worlds".

Tom Scharre from Oak Park  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 6:56 PM

Congratulations to both of these women. Clearly, they are about achievement, effort & commitment. My comment is directed to Mr. Roberts. You, sir, are not worthy of your six-figure salary. Your unwillingness to say which person was hired for which position suggests your decisions are based, primarily, on whim -- not on any defined criteria for any particular position. The taxpayers give you hundreds of thousands of dollars; you clearly do not feel as generous in divulging your thought process.

I was thinking the same  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 5:03 PM

I guess you never know with that guy.

Hasn't Decided?  

Posted: May 14th, 2014 4:02 PM

Congratulations to both new principals. Ms. Cole has been an outstanding educator in D97 and will do well in her new role. I'm just surprised that Dr. Roberts hasn't decided which school will get which candidate. A great candidate should be able to go anywhere, but interviews usually guide the match-up. Is he going to flip a coin?

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