Editorial: New Naperville Central principal will need experience and vision

Principal Bill Wiesbrook has served as principal for 13 of his 25 years at Naperville Central High School, fostering a productive and successful learning environment during his tenure. 

While Wiesbrook will retire at the end of this school year, the search for his successor already began when Naperville District 203 posted the job opening online on Oct. 4.

Apart from a clean track record and administrative experience, the new principal of Naperville Central will need an intimate knowledge of Central’s culture and a willingness to form meaningful relationships with students of all backgrounds and perspectives.  

It is the opinion of this editorial board that the district should hire someone who already works at Naperville Central to fill this role. An internal hire can yield a smooth transition, as the new principal will already have a strong understanding of chains of command and communication at Central. An external candidate, by contrast, will need time to get to know the school and its people, as well as whether or not Central is a good fit for them. 

In general, Naperville Central building administrators have maintained clear and relevant communication with students and families. Having a Central administrator assume the principal position ensures that the school keeps methods of communications that have worked well in the past.  

As students, teachers, and administrators navigate their way back into normal learning, the new principal should not have to go through a big learning curve on top. While Central has performed well during the pandemic, especially considering the circumstances, the new principal will need to be in the best position possible for the speedy and thorough recovery the school still has to undergo. 

While the new principal should have experience working with Central’s staff and students, they should also come in with new ideas. 

In particular, as the national conversation around education emphasizes diversity and equity more and more, candidates for the job should have a clear vision of how to specifically implement the initiatives that today’s students need. 

For instance, with Illinois requiring Asian American history to be taught in schools, the new principal would need to integrate that curriculum in a way that encourages discussion and contextualizes the Asian American experience. The same goes for the history of other minority or marginalized groups in the country, several of which are represented in recently-passed curriculum initiatives at the state level. 

Another one of a principal’s most important responsibilities is helping to hire new staff. Potential candidates should have plans to make this process as inclusive as possible as well. Of course, no teacher should be hired solely because of their race or gender, but the new principal should think about how to keep making Naperville Central a welcoming place for educators of diverse backgrounds.  

The new principal should also plan to get to know the wide array of student backgrounds, interests and perspectives at Central. They should set a goal of interacting with students in the day to day setting as much as possible, as well as reaching out to as many activities and athletics groups as they can. 

The success of this school isn’t just dependent on test scores or attendance alone. One of the highlights of Central is its multitude of extracurricular student groups, many of which are award winning and ranked state or nation-wide. In addition to their operational and curricular duties, the principal should keep these unique opportunities in mind because they’re part of what makes this school so special. 

Though it’s up to the district to choose the best candidate for this job, the community can and should offer their feedback throughout this process. Administrators are planning public forums where students, teachers and families can get to know candidates. Speaking at Board of Education meetings or even emailing the district are options as well. 

As Naperville Central starts the next chapter, it’s important to have a new principal that can lead the school in the right direction with passion and experience. They’ll need to be familiar with the school but also have vision, especially when it comes to diversity and equity.   Under the right guidance, Naperville Central’s staff and students can and will continue to flourish.