District 97 Board Appoints Co-Interim Senior Directors of HR, Director of MTSS

During its regular meeting on Tuesday, July 13, the District 97 Board of Education approved three key administrative hires for the 2021-22 school year:

  • Cathie Pezanoski and Tim Kilrea will serve as co-interim senior directors of human resources. They replace Gina Herrmann, who resigned at the end of the 2021-22 school year to accept a position in another district. Pezanoski began her tenure with District 97 on July 12, while Kilrea is slated to begin Aug. 1.
  • Emilie Creehan will serve as the district’s director of Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). She replaces Faith Cole, who resigned in June to accept a position in Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200. Emilie’s first day in District 97 will be July 15.

Biographies of the appointees are included below.

Cathie Pezanoski and Tim Kilrea, Co-Interim Senior Directors of Human Resources

Pezanoski and Kilrea are both retired administrators who have extensive human resources experience. Because the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) limits the number of days a retired educator can work each school year, they will share the senior director role and divide responsibilities and workdays as needed. Each will be paid a daily rate and work approximately half the year.

“Cathie and Tim are both accomplished educators and administrators with a breadth of experience in human resources,” said Co-Interim Superintendents Griff Powell and Patricia Wernet. “We are excited about the skills and expertise they bring to our administrative team, and look forward to working together to support the students and staff of District 97.”

Pezanoski comes to District 97 with 35 years of experience in education, including 15 years as a district administrator. She will formally retire this month from Elwood Community Consolidated School District 203, where she has been the superintendent for the past nine years. During her tenure, Pezanoski facilitated the negotiations of three collective bargaining agreements with the local teachers union, facilitated all major personnel issues, hired all staff, and served as a trustee for the Lincolnway Insurance Cooperative. 

Prior to becoming a superintendent, Pezanoski served two years as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Downers Grove Grade School District 58, four years as director of elementary curriculum and instruction for Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202, and eight years as an elementary principal in several Illinois districts. She has also worked as an adjunct professor for the University of St. Francis, an associate for the education search firm School Exec Connect, and a private financial consultant for Taft Elementary School District.

Pezanoski holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Illinois State University, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bradley University, and a Chief School Business Official certification from Illinois State University.

“I am very honored to be given the opportunity to work with the District 97 administrative team, staff and families to serve the students of Oak Park,” Pezanoski said. “I am confident that my 35 years of elementary education experience will support my success in working with such a high-performing district.”

Like Pezanoski, Kilrea comes to District 97 with a vast range of skills and experience from his 35-year career in education. Most recently, Kilrea served as superintendent of Lyons Township High School District 204, where he led students, families and staff for the past 12 years before retiring at the end of June. 

Prior to being superintendent, Kilrea served as the director of human resources for District 204, a role that has primed him to make an immediate impact in District 97. During Kilrea’s tenure, he did everything from leading in the recruitment, retention and development of the district’s personnel to coordinating the district’s new teacher induction and mentoring program. He negotiated agreements for District 204’s three bargaining units while also overseeing the development and implementation of broader systems and initiatives in human resources, including mentoring administrative and supervisory staff on personnel related issues.

Kilrea has roots in Frankfort, Ill., where he began his career as a history teacher at Lincoln-Way High School in 1987. He went on to serve in numerous roles, including as department chair, assistant dean of students, coordinator of deans/director of student activities and associate principal for curriculum and instruction. He was also principal of Thornton Fractional South High School and assistant superintendent at Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215 prior to his move to District 204.

Kilrea holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Illinois State University, a master’s degree in educational administration from Governors’ State University and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Illinois.

“I am proud to join the passionate, dedicated team of educators and educational support staff in Oak Park Elementary School District 97.” Kilrea said. “In partnership with the D97 community, Cathie and I look forward to continuing the tradition of educational excellence and commitment to equity that have come to define Oak Park schools.”

Emilie Creehan, Director of MTSS

The Board of Education is proud to welcome former District 97 student support specialist and teacher, Emilie Creehan, as the new director of Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). Emilie returns to District 97 after serving as assistant principal of Carpenter Elementary School in Park Ridge-Niles School District 64. Prior to that, Emilie spent eight years as a student support specialist at Irving Elementary School. She began her career as a middle school reading and math teacher in Chicago Public Schools and a first- and third-grade teacher in District 97. Emilie holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Concordia University and bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Indiana University.

As director, Emilie will be responsible for implementing MTSS across grade levels and schools. MTSS is a framework that helps educators identify and support the needs of all learners through data-based problem solving and decision-making. While serving as assistant principal, student support specialist and teacher, Emilie gained valuable experience organizing and leading teams to accelerate and maximize student growth and achievement. Together with her team, Emilie will continue in the critical work of providing strategic support, high-quality instruction and equitable opportunities to every student in the district.