WC selects new superintendent

JULIE KATZENBERGER

By SAMANTHA PIDDE

Following a special meeting Wednesday, Jan. 10, the West Carroll School Board selected WCMS Principal Julie Katzenberger as the district's new superintendent, effective July 1.

"The Board chose Mrs. Katzenberger based on the current success she has created at West Carroll Middle School, energetic community connections and her commitment to continuous educational improvement," said Supt. Adam Brumbaugh in a press release. "(She) brings a well-rounded background to the new position."

Katzenberger, 46, has accepted a multi-year contract with the district for the superintendent position. The position became open after Brumbaugh's resignation was officially accepted by the board of education on Dec. 18. He accepted the superintendent position at the Geneseo School District, effective July 1.

Thirteen applications were received for the West Carroll position, which were narrowed down to four finalists who were interviewed Jan. 3-4. The board officially offered Katzenberger the position on Wednesday, Jan. 10.

In an email interview with the Mirror-Democrat/Times-Journal, Katzenberger said she decided to seek the superintendent’s position in the hope she could "make a positive impact in education" and use her experience to lead West Carroll.

"I care about the WC district and truly want the very best for the students and families in all three communities,” Katzenberger said. “We have such great families that support the educational system. I hope to build financial security in West Carroll and increase academic rigor.”

"I want to see students challenge themselves academically and be ready for any college or career they desire when they graduate from WC. I want to see more students involved in extra-curricular activities. Research shows that when students participate in extra-curricular activities, they increase their grade point averages, learn teamwork, and work ethic."

A 1989 Mount Carroll High School graduate, Katzenberger attended the school district since second grade. Her father, Wayne Greene, was a teacher at for 32 years, serving as an industrial arts teacher and math teacher for both the Mount Carroll School District and then the West Carroll School District until his retirement in 2007.

Her mother, Karen Greene, worked in the Carroll County State's Attorney office and later the Department of Human Services in Mount Carroll. Both of her parents were born in Galena. Katzenberger's brother, Brian Greene, is a teacher in Pearl City.

"Carroll County was a wonderful place to grow up. It is a safe place to live and people are friendly and caring. Still to this day, my classmates have always felt like brothers and sisters to me," said Katzenberger.

She first became inspired to be an educator by her junior high health teacher, Randy Steinbach. She said he "balanced academic rigor with building relationships," always having a good time and joking with his students. Katzenberger also said she was inspired by her father, as well as her P.E. teacher and volleyball coach, Ann Peterson.

"All around, I can't say enough about the teachers I had while growing up. Every single one of them made an impact on me," Katzenberger said.

After graduating from Illinois State University with a double major of Health Education and Community Health Education along with a minor in Biology Education, she started teaching science in the Freeport School District. Katzenberger taught for 13 years at Freeport Junior High, saying she "absolutely loved experimentation, dissection" and seeing her students "grow."

While teaching at Freeport, she earned a Master's degree in Educational Psychology from NIU. For 10 years she taught nights and summers as an adjunct professor for NIU, teaching graduate and undergraduate classes at both the DeKalb and Rockford campuses. She and the Chair of Education, Dr. Pierce, worked on a doctoral research group at the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) one summer, later presenting their research at the American Education Research Association (AERA) convention in Chicago. The research also was published.

In 2004, Katzenberger received her Master's degree in Educational Administration and served two years as assistant principal at WCHS. For the past 10 years, she has served as principal at the West Carroll Middle School.

"In 2016, I earned my Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree from Western Illinois University. I have served on the Illinois Principals Association Northwest Executive Board for the past ten years and I am currently the president of the Mount Carroll noon Rotary Club," Katzenberger added.

She and her husband of 22 years, Aaron Katzenberger reside off of Pearl City Road (out of city limits), in a home built by her husband. They also have a family farm in Loran that Aaron helps his father with. They have three children: Mariah, 20; Brady, 17; Marissa, 14. Mariah is a Division I Student-Athlete at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, majoring in human biology.

Katzenberger said she and her husband have discussed relocating in the future, However, she said she is currently close enough to the West Carroll School District; approximately 25 miles from the district office.

Katzenberger said she is excited to take on the position of superintendent while also being sad to leave her position as WCMS principal.

"WCMS is a place I will truly miss on an every day basis; however, I plan on working in all three buildings as often as I can," Katzenberger said.

"The middle school staff is like family to me after being there for the past 10 years. The custodians, cooks, secretaries, teachers and support staff work together especially well, hold high expectations for themselves and their students, and are just a fun and caring staff."