LM Feb 2023

Education Elevat g We continue our series highlighting tremendous educators across Illinois who have given their time and energy to ele vating the superintendency and public education as a whole. Each month, we will feature two educators who are going the extra mile and truly making a difference beyond their school districts and local communities. While we are aware of many of the contributions administrators are making, we are open to any suggestions for someone to feature next month. To make a recommendation, contact Jason Nevel, IASA Director of Social Media and Publications, at jnevel@iasaedu.org or by calling 217–753–2213. Dr. Cystal Johnson-Maden Rossville-Alvin CUSD#7 Dr. Jeff Craig AuroraWest USD#129

Who: Dr. Jeff Craig, superintendent What: Advocate for Evidence-Based Funding and early childhood funding; Chairman of the Aurora Educational Commission; Championed a $84.2 million referendum that funded school building projects and transformed learning opportunities for students; Expanded career and technical education; Strong advocate for public education.

Who: Dr. Cystal Johnson-Maden, superintendent What: Elevate IASA SuperWomen cohort; IASA Women in Leadership; Transformational Leadership Academy coach; Adjunct Professor of Special Education at Eastern Illinois University; Facilitated a turnaround in Rossville Alvin CUSD #7

Where: Rossville-Alvin CUSD #7, Illini When: Superintendent of Rossville-Alvin CUSD #7 since 2011 Why: When Dr. Crystal Johnson-Maden asked her vocational teacher in high school about where she could get a job, she wasn’t searching for a career. “I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t know how or what I was going to do,” Dr. Johnson-Maden remembers. “I told him I wanted to work somewhere I could make a difference. He pointed me to this facility in town for people with severe disabilities. That’s where I discovered the impact I could have on others and decided I wanted to teach special education.” Dr. Johnson-Maden got her start as a special education teacher, but later transitioned into the superintendency in 2011 at Rossville-Alvin CUSD #7. However, she never lost

Where: Aurora West USD #129, Kishwaukee When: Superintendent of Aurora West USD #129 since 2014 Why: In 2019, Aurora West USD #129 opened a new $3.9 million technical manufacturing educational facility on the district’s 15-acre campus. The facility focuses on career development in the area of advanced manufacturing, including welding, mechatronics and precision machining. For Dr. Craig, superintendent of Aurora West USD #129 since 2014, the facility represented an opportunity to correct a mistake that educators made far too long. “We did a great disservice to our kids when we had this mindset of college or bust,” Dr. Craig said. “I point the finger back at myself for this. There needed to be more opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge and passion in other means than traditional academic rigor. The world has been depleted in skilled trades because public education did not do


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LM February 2023

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