Alison Hawley

An educator who helped foster cultural sensitivity at a New York City magnet school and was an administrator in a North Shore elementary system will direct curriculum and instruction for River Forest Elementary District 90 starting on July 1.

The school board on March 21 hired Alison Hawley, the former director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for Winnetka District 36. Her salary will be $138,500.

Hawley will replace Martha Ryan-Toye, who been in District 90 for more than 20 years, five of them as director of student services.

The 44-year-old Hawley was one of 53 applicants for the position, an extraordinary number, Superintendent Ed Condon said. School Exec Connect, the firm that screened candidates for the position, selected eight semi-finalists. They were brought in for interviews on March 8. Three finalists were interviewed a week later. There were no internal candidates, Condon said.

Her knowledge of Common Core as well as her expertise in curriculum, teacher leadership and the value she places on collaboration made her the right fit for the district, Condon said.

Another aspect of her career that made Hawley a strong candidate was her experience in the New York City school system. Hawley, who was raised in Evanston, taught humanities and then became a middle school coordinator at the Academy of Environmental Science in East Harlem from 1998 to 2002.

The Academy, a seventh- through 12th-grade magnet school in East Harlem whose focus was environmental science, was created around the focus of cultural sensitivity, Hawley said.

She then worked in Winnetka as a teacher and administrator. Hawley had completed her doctorate at National Louis University and was on leave from Winnetka writing a book off her dissertation when the position in District 90 came open.

Hawley said she was fortunate to work in Winnetka and was proud of her work there as a teacher and administrator. But the social justice equity piece of working in education was something she always wanted to get back to, Hawley said.

“Diversity enriches communities,” she said. “This [position in District 90] was something I wanted to be a part of. I feel honored to be selected for this position. I am excited about joining District 90 and the opportunity to work with such a well-respected school district.”

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