Wiegand Chosen as Next Champaign Schools Superintendent

December 21, 2011

Champaign Unit 4 schools has hired from within for the district's next leader.

Judy Wiegand was named the district's next superintendent Wednesday afternoon, succeeding Arthur Culver, who left six months ago.

She is also the first female superintendent in Unit 4 history. Wiegand has been with the district since 1987, starting as a special education teacher, and most recently as assistant superintendent for achievement and pupil services. Wiegand was slated to become the next interim superintendent next month.

"This is a community that wants and deserves the best for its students," she said. "I want to inspire a high level of confidence, trust, and respect for our schools. We need in order to continue to grow and improve."

Her long-term goals include more offerings in career and technical education, and master plans for Unit 4's middle and high schools.

"This is a community that deserves the best, and really the economic vibrancy of the community is going to be related to the quality of the education," Wiegand said. "So I want to make sure we are doing the very best for our students. I also want to take a look at the relationship that we have with our community, and making sure that they have confidence and trust in what we're doing."

Unit 4 School Board President Sue Grey said the district didn't realize what a rising star it had.

"She has all those things that other people who have worked with her have had the opportunity to see," Grey said. "And so as we interviewed her, those were the things that really started coming through in the interview process. I think the light started to go on for all of us, saying - 'Aha - we've got something good here."

Initially, the 49-year old Wiegand didn't want to be considered for Unit 4's top job, saying she wasn't 100-percent sure by the application deadline in October.

"As I continued to work with (Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert) Malito, with the board, I felt a responsibility to step and put my name in, and be considered," she said. "This is a great opportunity."

Wiegand said her priorities include further development of the STEM initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) into the middle and high school levels, and improving offerings in career and technical education.

Unit 4 board member Jamar Brown said public perception is the biggest hurdle that Wiegand faces as she starts her new job.

"Being a part of previous administrations, people wonder if there will be more of the same," Brown said. "I think with her being very professional, and having the vision, and also working with Dr. Malito the last six months, I think she can definitely take this school district to a different level."

"She really is the consummate professional," Grey said. "I don't think we realized who was in our backyard."

Contracts terms for Wiegand haven't been finalized yet, but she expects to begin working on transitioning into the superintendent's job with Dr. Malito early Thursday morning.

The other finalists for the superintendent position were Darryl Taylor, superintendent of a one-school district in Calumet City, and Johnnie Thomas, an associate superintendent at the Arlington Heights Township High School district.

Story source: WILL