Superintendent Caught Teaching Bug from Preschoolers School district administrator got her start as a classroom volunteer

Caletha White ’17 is the new superintendent of schools for Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 in Park Forest, Ill. beginning July 1, 2018. Well before this new position or even her career in education, White was just a mother volunteering in a preschooler classroom.

The energy of 3- and 4-year-old students and their eagerness to learn was contagious, and it led to White’s career change away from human resources and into education. “The imagination, creativity and excitement of early learners was amazing and I wanted to nurture that passion in children by creating classroom environments that are windows to the world,” she explained.

Teaching alone was not the cure for her new professional itch, so White moved into leadership and administrative roles in order to increase her reach. “Realizing that I could make a greater impact, I leaned toward program leadership, school leadership and eventually district-level leadership,” she recalled.

During White’s decade and a half of educational leadership experience, she became familiar with the reputation of the National College of Education (NCE) at National Louis University (NLU) for equipping and empowering educators to lead. When she finally decided to enrolled in a doctoral program, NCE’s reputation did not disappoint.

“I believe that the structure of the NLU doctoral program, which allows for deep reflection, collaborative conversations and study of educational research and leaders in the field, supports the development of strong leadership skills,” White explained. “I also benefited from the work with my dissertation chair, Dr. Gibson. His experience and knowledge of professional research combined with practice substantially impacted my growth and preparation for the superintendency.”

White left NLU with both an Ed.D. in Educational leadership and an Ed.S. in Administration and Supervision.

For White, it all comes back to the infectious “spark of the early learner” she saw in that pre-K class and the passion it grew in her for the world of education. Leading schools and teachers is mainly an extension of those experiences. “My new role as superintendent of schools is the continuation of my commitment to educational excellence for all students,” White noted.