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Peru, Sandwich superintendents honored by colleagues

Peru Elementary Superintendent Mark Cross has been named the 2018 Superintendent of Distinction by his colleagues in the Starved Rock Region of the Illinois Association of School Administrators.

Cross was honored at an awards luncheon May 1 in Springfield. Cross was selected by his colleagues in the Starved Rock region, which encompasses four counties in Northern Illinois.

“It is very humbling to be selected for this kind of honor. Nothing we have accomplished is of my own doing, as I’m blessed to work with a faculty, staff, leadership team and board who are child-centered and truly want to do what is best for students,” said Cross, who has been an educator for 26 years, serving a special education teacher, principal and superintendent of Peru Elementary for the past 13 years.

Those nominating Cross made special notation of his accomplishments in the school district during his tenure. He coordinated and facilitated the development and implementation of three comprehensive strategic plans, leading to a wide range of successful initiatives to improve educational opportunities for children.

He led a successful process to provide a $12 million addition and complete renovation to Northview Elementary School, which reopened in 2015.

Cross facilitated a grassroots effort resulting in 78 percent voter approval to issue bonds for the construction of Parkside Middle School, which opened in 2009. He planned the initiative through a unique cooperative arrangement with the board and City Council to fully fund the Parkside project with no increase in property taxes.

He worked with the board and staff to develop the tuition-based Bright Futures preschool program, as well as a STEM lab and 1:1 initiative for all students from grade three and up.

Additionally, he worked to establish the Peru Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that has distributed tens of thousands of dollars to enhance educational opportunities for children across the district.

Cross attained his degrees at Illinois State University. He and his wife, Ronda, a primary school principal, have two adult children, and a new baby granddaughter.

Sandwich superintendent given distinction

Rick Schmitt, superintendent of Sandwich School District 430, was named a 2018 Superintendent of Distinction through the Illinois Association of School Administrators.

Schmitt was given the distinction by colleagues in the Kishwaukee Region of the IASA, according to an IASA news release. He was honored with the distinction at an awards luncheon Tuesday in Springfield.

Schmitt was one of 21 IASA-recognized superintendents of distinction this year, according to an Illinois State Board of Education news release.

Schmitt has been an educator for 34 years; about three quarters of that time has been spent in Sandwich schools, and he has been district superintendent the past 19 years, according to the IASA release. He was also an assistant principal and principal at Sandwich High School before becoming superintendent.

Those who nominated Schmitt cited several accomplishments of his, including helping to implement all-day kindergarten and Advanced Placement courses in Sandwich High School. They also said he helped strengthen programs and services for social-emotional learning within school curriculum and helped develop best practices for staff professional development, according to an IASA news release.

Schmitt received his bachelor's degree from Illinois State University. He received his master's degree in education from Northern Illinois University.

Schmitt and his wife of 30 years, Beth, have two sons, Paul and Tim, according to the IASA release.

Schmitt said in the release he was "honored and humbled" to be recognized as a superintendent of distinction this year from his colleagues in the Kishwaukee region.

— Katie Finlon, Shaw Media, contributed to this report.

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