The Oak Park District 97 school board tapped two familiar faces to lead William Beye Elementary and Washington Irving Elementary schools next year. Cheryl Sullivan, who this past year served as co-interim principal at Beye, and Irving Assistant Principal Susan Mura were appointed by board members earlier this month to take on a permanent principal role at their respective schools.
Sullivan, a longtime educator at District 97, shared the principal position at Beye, 230 N. Cuyler Ave., with Sheila Carter, another decades-long district administrator. The two were selected by the board last year to replace former Beye Principal Jennifer Schemidt, who resigned from her position after one year to become a school psychologist in the Naperville Community School District 203. Schemidt had served one controversial year at Beye after replacing Jonathan Ellwanger, the school’s long-time principal who had retired.
Mura, who has been assistant principal at Irving, 1125 S. Cuyler Ave., since 2018, was named Principal John Hodge’s successor. After serving 31 years in the district – 18 of which were spent at Irving – Hodge will retire at the end of June.
Sullivan and Mura will begin their new roles July 1, said district spokeswoman Amanda Siegfried.
Siegfried told Wednesday Journal that six people – three of whom were already employed at the district – were screened by the human resources department. Some candidates applied and interviewed for both principal positions, while others applied and interviewed for one school, she said. Sullivan and Mura were among the candidates who sought a position at one school.
A team of parents, staff members, principals and administrators conducted interviews with candidates, and the Top 3 finalists were sent to new Superintendent Ushma Shah, Associate Superintendent of Education Felicia Starks Turner and Chief Academic and Accountability Officer Eboney Lofton for the last round, Siegfried said.
On selecting Sullivan and Mura, Starks Turner and Lofton pointed out the pair of new principal’s leadership, dedication and experience.
In a school news release issued by the district this past month, Starks Turner commended Sullivan for “providing much-needed stability to her school during the ongoing challenges of the pandemic” and believes she will continue to help Beye grow in the coming years. Meanwhile, Lofton highlighted Mura’s ability to create a positive, inclusive learning environment for all students.
“She has done an exceptional job at Irving over the past four years, and we are confident that the school will continue to thrive under her leadership,” Lofton said about Mura in the news release.
Sullivan and Mura also shared their excitement about becoming mainstays at Beye and Irving, making sure to spotlight their partners, Carter and Hodge.
“It has been an honor serving with Sheila Carter as an interim principal this year and building relationships with the students, staff and community. I am really looking forward to building on Beye’s many strengths and working to advance the educational experience for all students,” Sullivan said in the release.
Mura offered up a similar response.
“Over the last four years, I have had the privilege of working alongside Principal Hodge and have learned firsthand what a special place Irving is,” Mura said. “I look forward to continuing to work with our staff and families to support the growth and achievement of all students.”