It was a tough choice between three finalists, but when it came down to it, one stood out.
Lemont-Bromerek District 113A voted unanimously March 7 to hire Dr. Courtney Orzel.
Orzel's "high energy" and communication skills set her apart from the rest, Board President Cindy Kelly said.
"There was an energy about her," Kelly said. "It was in the way she presented herself to us."
Dr. Orzel comes to the district from Forest Ridge School District 142 in Oak Forest. She will take over for Interim Superintendent Dr. Pamela Hollich, effective May 1.
"Our board is excited to work with Dr. Orzel," said Kelly. "She was not only the board's top candidate, but all three focus groups agreed that she will be a fantastic addition to the District 113A team."
Orzel is in her 15th year of education. In her current position, she has served as Superintendent of Distrct 142 since July 2013. Prior to becoming superintendent, she served as principal of Jack Hille Middle School for seven years. Previously, she served as an assistant principal at Gower Middle School in District 62, and also as a high school English, Speech and Theatre teacher at York High School in Elmhurst. She was also a middle school Language Arts and Reading teacher at Hauser Junior High School in Riverside.
Orzel was not necessarily seeking a new position, but a former coworker contacted her about District 113A.
"She said it would be a perfect fit," Orzel said. "And it was."
Orzel is looking forward to working with the staff on their public relations and communications strategies, in addition to developing a strong fine arts program.
"I felt like the minute i met with the board, the staff, the administrators, I felt like it was a really good fit. I think they're headed in the right direction, they're excited about the district and where it's headed, and that appeals to me."
Orzel holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as a Superintendent endorsement. Her dissertation focused on the importance of dialogue and inclusivity in schools. She was an adjunct professor at the UIUC, in the College of Education's Department of Education, Policy, Organization and Leadership teaching School Improvement to aspiring potential candidates.
Kelly said the board met with Orzel's current team, as part of the hiring process.
"She is very well-respected among her current staff, administration and community members that we met. During our visit, we sensed that she will be greatly missed."
Orzel hails from the small town of Clinton, Ill. She and her husband of 8 years Jeff have two children: Nolan, age 5, and Elle, 5 months.
A meet and greet for parents and community members will be scheduled for late March or early April.
Orzel remains with District 142 in Oak Forest until June 30, but will begin transitional meetings in District 113A in May. She will take unpaid leave from District 142, to spend transitional days in District 113-A.
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