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By Terry Dean
Mann School has its next principal, and the school district didn't have to look too far to find him.
Sam LeDeaux, 35, an assistant principal at Percy Julian Middle School, will replace Nimisha Kumar at Mann, 921 N. Kenilworth Ave. The District 97 Board of Education unanimously approved LeDeaux's appointment on May 22. A former Chicago Public School teacher, LeDeaux was an assistant principal at Longfellow before joining Julian. He'll earn a salary of $100,000 on a one-year contract at Mann.
At last week's board meeting, LeDeaux (pronounced LUH-DOH) was joined by his wife and 3-year-old son.
LeDeaux's official start date is July 1. He holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Knox College, and a master's degree in educational leadership from Concordia University. Supt. Albert Roberts praised LeDeaux's work ethic and relationship with families.
"The words that were used to describe him by teachers and actually some students were consistent," Roberts said, "that he was always in the classroom, the kids knew him, the teachers knew him. He always followed through and did what he said he was going to do."
Speaking with Wednesday Journal last week, LeDeaux said he knew since high school that he wanted to become a teacher. The Evanston native worked at CPS for three years before joining D97. He said Oak Park had all the things he was looking for, including diversity and community sensitivity.
LeDeaux was among nearly 100 candidates to apply for the Mann principal post.
"My hard work and pride for Oak Park and District 97 is certainly more tangible as an internal candidate," he said.
LeDeaux is the only member of his family who's a teacher. It wasn't until later in his teaching career that he considered moving into administration, something he earlier never thought he'd do.
"I loved teaching and vowed up and down that there would never be a circumstance that I would leave that," he recalled. "I think developing those relationships with families led to an appreciation and understanding that ultimately led me to want to continue that at the next level."