Glenview native Merryl Brownlow was named the new principal of Willard School last week. The appointment followed a selection process that attracted more than 150 applicants.

Brownlow, 43, has served as the principal of Glen Grove Elementary School in Glenview past four years. She takes over as Willard principal on July 1, replacing Paul McKinney and Donna Clark, who have shared duties on an interim basis since the start of the 2008-09 school year. Brownlow was given a three-year contract with an annual salary of $113,600 for the first year.

District 90 Superintendent Thomas Hagerman said Brownlow will finish out the school year in her current position and begin some transition activities with Willard staff, students and parent groups between now and July 1.

Brownlow, who grew up in Glenview and graduated from Glenbrook South High School, is a nationally board-certified teacher. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and her master’s from Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. She has presented both locally and nationally on a range of educational topics.

She has also served as a special education administrator, principal, and assistant principal in Doylestown, Penn., following nearly 10 years as an elementary classroom teacher in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In a press release, Dist. 90 said Brownlow’s tenure in Glenview “has been distinguished by her devotion to students, strong collaboration with staff and community, a focus on differentiated instruction as a way of meeting the needs of all students, and an on-going focus on staff development.”

Hagerman said Brownlow was “the clear finalist” following a national search.

“Mrs. Brownlow is not only experienced, highly-skilled and knowledgeable, but she is warm, accessible, and places a premium on developing relationships, and this is exactly the kind of leader for which we were looking,” said Hagerman. “I have every confidence that she will be a great fit both at Willard and within the River Forest community.”

School board personnel committee Chair Juli Geldner, who served on the principal search interview committee, added that, “while all the finalists brought strengths to the table, Mrs. Brownlow was truly exceptional, consistently demonstrating her commitment to each student and his or her individual success.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join a district with a longstanding history of excellence,” Brownlow said in a press release. “I am looking forward to serving the Willard School community and being able to continue to nurture the commitment to students and their success.”

Brownlow said her new post is “a good match” with her previous experience. The River Forest and Glenview school systems have very similar test scores and demographics, as well as teacher experience and per student expenditures, though Glenview has a significantly higher number of low-income students.

“I believe this will be a good match, where the collaborative spirit among students, staff, parents and community members will support our work in creating a positive school experience for all children.”

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