End of an era

Looking back on Principal Bill Wiesbrook’s 27 years of service and kindness in his final year at Central

Wiesbrook+converses+with+Band+Director+DJ+Alstadt+on+Dec.+14+during+Alstadts+time+as+principal+for+a+day.

Claire Yung

Wiesbrook converses with Band Director DJ Alstadt on Dec. 14 during Alstadt’s time as “principal for a day.”

As Principal Bill Wiesbrook rounds out his 26th year at Naperville Central on June 30, he’ll also be retiring from his career in education. 

For many long-time members of the Central community, the nacho-loving former teacher, dean, coach and assistant principal has consistently brought fun and humor to students and staff alike. 

“Mr. Wiesbrook is one of my favorite people in this world,” said Jackie Thornton, current assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, who will take over Wiesbrook’s role as principal next school year. “The work we do here is really important, but he always reminds us to laugh and maybe not take ourselves so seriously at times. At the same time, he has this wonderful ability to provide feedback and motivate you to do the very best job that you can do.” 

Wiesbrook started teaching at Minooka High School. 

“He relates things to when he was at Minooka,” said communication arts teacher Barry Baldwin, who’s been at Central for 29 years. “He always teaches a lesson by something that happened to him at Minooka. If you have a complaint about something, he’ll say ‘I heard they have openings at Minooka.’ It’s a funny response to the staff.” 

After getting a call from his cousin, former Central chemistry teacher Steve Wiesbrook, Bill Wiesbrook found his way here. He taught business courses including keyboarding and computer programming. During this time, he was also periodically asked to coach various sports and activities.

Wiesbrook speaks at the 2019 National Honor Society induction ceremony. (Lifetouch)

“I did sustain basketball for a long time, probably 16 years of coaching boys basketball,” Wiesbrook said. “The other ones were an athletic director or principal twisting my arm, saying ‘we don’t have anyone to help coach.’ Football, baseball, chess and tennis were all short term, helping a school in a bind.” 

He’d go on to work as a dean and assistant principal of operations.

“The biggest thing that I was involved with was the renovation of this building,” he said. “It began when I was in the dean’s office. It ended four years later when I was principal. There were years of planning and meeting with architects, and when the actual ground was broken, there were trailer classrooms, cranes and bulldozers all over this campus. That project was huge, and I was in the middle of it.” 

These new positions also changed his perspective as an educator. 

“When I was a teacher, I mostly focused on the content for the course I was teaching,” he said. “After I left the classroom, I started noticing all the other things that are happening, especially in a big building like this. The area I’ve grown the most is the awareness of the comprehensive school experience that occurs for students.” 

The opportunity for Wiesbrook to apply for principal arose after former principal Jim Caudill was removed from his position in 2008 for plagiarizing his graduation commemorative speech from a student. 

Wiesbrook addresses the school during the homecoming week assembly in the week of Sept. 27. (Claire Yung)

“Whoever filled that role, it was kind of a big deal,” Baldwin said. “We needed someone to bring the fun back into the job because we were all in the spotlight with what the previous principal had done. He brought back that mentality of love your school, love walking the halls. He’s carried that through, all the way to this year. That’s never wavered.”

Wiesbrook said there have been some difficult conversations he’s had to have as principal. 

“There’s a little gavel up there in that corner,” he said, pointing to a cabinet shelf by his office door. “I actually have a few times set it in front of me and felt a bit like a judge; there’s a difficult situation that needs a ruling and some of those difficult rulings need to be made by the principal. When they’re made, somebody’s upset.” 

Ultimately, though, he’s also proud of the accomplishments from his time as principal.

“I put at the top of my list hiring and choosing great staff,” he said.

What he does know is that every student at Central has lots of potential. 

“I think that’s exciting,” Wiesbrook said. “We all choose our own mindset. I would say to students: choose to look at your life and school as something that’s exciting. Everybody is capable of doing good things.”