By SAMANTHA PIDDE
West Carroll School District’s new Supt. Julie Katzenberger is looking forward to the new school year.
Katzenberger, 47, officially took over as superintendent following the July 1 departure of Adam Brumbaugh.
She lives in rural Pearl City with her husband of 23 years, Aaron, and their three children: Mariah, Brady and Marissa. Mariah will be a senior this year at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Brady will be a senior in high school.
Katzenberger grew up in Mount Carroll and graduated from Mount Carroll High School in 1989. Her father, Wayne Greene, taught for 32 years and was an industrial arts teacher and math teacher for both the Mount Carroll School District and then the West Carroll School District until he retired in 2007.
The new superintendent’s mother, Karen Greene, worked in the Carroll County state's attorney office and later the Department of Human Services in Mount Carroll.
Katzenberger said her desire to work in education came from her father, noting that she loves to research and learn and always thought teaching was the career for her.
"I just always enjoyed being with kids of all ages," Katzenberger said during an interview Monday morning, Aug. 13. "I think there's something real neat about kids; they're fun."
After graduating from Illinois State University with a double major of Health Education and Community Health Education and a minor of Biology Education, Katzenberger taught science and language arts for 13 years at Freeport Junior High School. She said she loved working with the students, especially in her science classes.
"I loved science because of all of the experimentation," Katzenberger said. "Those were some great times."
While working in Freeport, Katzenberger taught nights and summers for 10 years as an adjunct professor for Northern Illinois University, teaching graduate and undergraduate classes at both the DeKalb and Rockford campuses.
She received two masters from NIU — one in Education Psychology in 2000 and one in Education Administration in 2004. She said she became interested in education administration as a way to help more people.
"I just wanted to make a difference to more than just a classroom," Katzenberger said.
In 2006, Katzenberger was hired as the assistant principal at West Carroll High School. Two years later, she became the principal at the Middle School.
Katzenberger said she enjoyed working with all of the teachers and staff at WCMS, who she described as "supportive" and "hardworking."
"The whole staff was fabulous," Katzenberger said. "They truly have the best in mind at all times for the kids."
Katzenberger remained as principal for 10 years, until she decided to take on the role of superintendent this year.
She received her Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S.) in 2016 from Western Illinois University. She decided to get her superintendent certification in a quest to "spread" her "wings" and "keep learning.”
The West Carroll Board of Education selected Katzenberger to succeed Brumbaugh, beginning this school year, after he announced his resignation to take the superintendent’s position in the Geneseo School District.
Katzenberger is settling into the new position. She acknowledged there are a great deal more state reports and processes to deal with in her new job. Luckily, she said there are people in the education field that provide assistance and support.
"The education field is very supportive. That's what we do, is help others," Katzenberger said.
She is looking forward to better representing the district as the new school year begins. She added that she and the district are extremely happy a referendum to provide more funding through an increase in the Education Fund tax rate passed this year. She pointed out that the slogan "student-centered; community-supported" applies to West Carroll right now.
"When your community is a partner you can't ask for anything more," Katzenberger said, adding, "Cause as we know, we can't always count on the State."
As the school year and her time as superintendent begins, she hopes to "put forth some visionary leadership" of where the district is going. She encourages people to offer her any suggestions or simply come up and introduce themselves to her.
"If I don't already know them, I'd like to get to know them," Katzenberger said.
West Carroll students return to school for the 2018-19 school year Tuesday, Aug. 21. Katzenberger said she cannot wait to see the excited faces of the children as they return.
This week, district staff are preparing for the start of the school year and the new West Carroll superintendent said, "We're almost there. We will be ready.”