Ushma Shah (Provided)

Dr. Ushma Shah is Oak Park’s District 97’s Superintendent.

Q: How long have you been the Superintendent for Oak Park’s District 97? 

A: I have served as superintendent since June 1, 2022.

Q: Can you describe what your role is at the school district? 

A: The District 97 Board of Education hires the superintendent to implement the community’s vision for its children. I work with all of our staff to recommend and enact systems, plans and high-quality practices that deliver on this vision.

Q:  Have there been any surprises that you can share from your time in this role?

A:  I’m surprised by the level of eagerness there is to transform systems and serve ALL students. Change is difficult, and I can see that Oak Park is courageous in its vision to serve students. I am excited to serve the community at this important time. 

To be honest, I’m also surprised by how many emails I get every day. I prefer to talk with people and will be looking for more ways for that to be the preferred mode of communication.

Q: What have been some of your favorite aspects of the job and why?

A: The fact that we have the opportunity to listen to students and to allow their voices to shape how we lead is amazing. Students have historically been receivers in schools. The current state of the world requires that students learn how to be designers of the future. As we engage in the Portrait of a Graduate process, our District 97 staff has the collective expertise to figure out how to facilitate that learning for EVERY student. Working collaboratively with staff members and community partners to activate that inherent power it is motivating. 

Q: Can you share something you love about working in the Oak Park/River Forest area?

A: I love that we are a village of big thinkers and that we expect people to feel welcomed and included in our community. We’ve got work to do to get to that vision — and most folks I’ve met here explicitly express a desire to achieve it. I love that we are eager to walk our talk around our values of fundamental human respect across a diversity of identities.

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