Doctor of Education alumni find success in area school districts

Jamie Reilly, EdD ’07, had an impressive career before she began the Doctor of Education program at AU. A classroom teacher for more than 20 years and a building principal for more than five years, Reilly had proven that she was an effective teacher and thoughtful leader. But, she had reached a point in her career where she wanted to aspire to a higher level in educational leadership. Her experiences working with colleagues and defining a district’s curricular goals made her realize that the next step in her career was a move to assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. And, when she went looking for an advanced degree program that would help her reach this step, she turned to the Doctor of Education in Leadership program at Aurora University.

“When I looked at area programs, I was impressed by how practical and goal-oriented the coursework at AU was. We started work on our dissertations from the very beginning so that earning a degree within three years was attainable. And, the cohort model provided an environment where I could get to know my classmates, engage in professional dialogue and bounce ideas off of peers with like responsibilities.”

While completing the program, Reilly earned a position as assistant superintendent in Community Consolidated School District 89. From there, she aspired to even higher levels of administration. After earning her EdD degree with a concentration in curriculum and instruction, she came back to AU to complete the necessary coursework in the educational administration track to become a superintendent. In 2010, Reilly became superintendent of Golf School District 67. After serving for three years, Reilly now turns her attention to a new superintendency in Maercker District 60 beginning in July 2013.

“The resources and connections that I acquired at AU have been extremely helpful as I have advanced in my career,” she said. “Particularly in the areas of finance and school law, the coursework had direct application to the challenges in front of me as a superintendent, from budgeting to seeking referenda to personnel issues.”

Reilly is one of many EdD graduates who are applying their AU education to high level educational administration positions in the Chicagoland area.

Lisa Hichens, EdD ’09, will begin her role as superintendent of Batavia Public School District 101 in July 2013. Hichens began her career gaining valuable experience in the classroom as a math teacher at Batavia High School. Following 11 years of teaching, Hichens was offered a position as assistant principal for curriculum and instruction. It was at this time that she knew she needed to expand her educational experiences to prepare for the position’s challenges.

“I was attracted to Aurora University because they valued the practical experiences of the professionals enrolled in the Doctor of Education program, while expanding our knowledge and research,” Hichens said. “The cohort model also matched my style of learning. We were able to engage each other in discussions and apply the concepts in class to a variety of real-life situations.”

Hichens served as Assistant Principal from 2004 to 2009, while also earning her Doctorate of Education in Leadership in Curriculum and Instruction from AU. After completing the program, Hichens earned a position as Batavia High School principal in 2009. During her time as principal, she returned to AU to complete the coursework in the EdD in Leadership in Educational Administration track. Having this experience helped Hichens in her position as principal and prepared her for higher level administration positions.

“As a principal, I am able to analyze and evaluate research, write at a doctoral level and apply theory to my practice,” Hichens said. “As the new superintendent of Batavia Public School District 101, my ultimate goal is to engage the community to continue the district’s tradition of academic excellence and continuous improvement. My completing of both the leadership in curriculum and instruction and the leadership in educational administration tracks has prepared me to face the challenges of this new position.”

In the EdD program’s ten-year span of graduating students, graduates of the administration track lead or have led 28 school districts, making an impact on student learning and educational policy in both Illinois and Wisconsin.

Below is a complete list of EdD Leadership in Administration graduates who have been recently hired to serve as superintendents beginning July 1, 2013.

Andy DuRoss – Schaumburg District 54
Lisa Hitchens – Batavia School District 101
Daniel Hollowell – Bourbonnais Elementary District 53
Sharon Olds – Galena School District 120
Jamie Reilly – Maercker District 60, Clarendon Hills
Tim Shimp – Yorkville District 115
Janet Stutz – Orland Park School District 135

To learn more about the doctoral education programs, attend the Doctor of Education Breakfast and Information Session on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. in the Perry Theatre Lobby, 1305 Kenilworth Place. Or, contact Marcia Gaspari, Graduate Education Recruiter, at (630) 844-4643 or mgaspari@aurora.edu for more information.