The Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board has named Erik Friedman the new principal of Walker Elementary School in Skokie.

Friedman, currently assistant principal at Washington Elementary School in Evanston, will replace Walker’s retiring principal, Karen Evans. He starts his new job July 1.

Superintendent Hardy Murphy, in recommending Friedman to the board, called him a thoughtful leader whose work at Washington has been instrumental in that school’s success.

“I have confidence that Mr. Friedman will help Walker Elementary School continue its strong support for families, faculty, and staff in their pursuit of academic excellence for all students at the school,” Murphy said.

Friedman was Interim assistant principal at Washington in 2010-11 and was as the school social worker at
Lincolnwood Elementary from August 2003 until 2010.

During the summers of 2008 and 2009, Friedman participated in graduate internships at Lincolnwood
Elementary in Evanston and Pleasant Ridge in Glenview. These internships provided an opportunity to plan, develop, and participate in student data review, teacher professional development designs, peer observation programs, and collaboration efforts with PTA presidents and others at the school.

Friedman holds a master’s degree in school leadership from Concordia University, a master’s degree in social sork from Loyola University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois.

Top: The new principal shows off his new Walker Wolverines t-shirt. With him are, from left, Superintendent Hardy Murphy, retiring Walker Principal Karen Evans and School Board President Katie Bailey. (District 65 photo.)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Classroom experience

    I have many questions, now that this will be the new principal at my kids' school….

    Does he have any experince in the classroom?  How will teachers re-act or perceive his advice/guidance if he has never ever walked in their shoes and had to deal with all the stuggles, challenges and success of being a teacher in Evanston? 

    He only has two years experience as an assistant prinicpal.  Is that enough?  Were there no other members of the D65 community that were qualified and with some classroom teaching experince or at least a couple more years experience? 

    I wish him well and hope the transition goes well….just wondering out loud.

  2. Congratulations

    Congratulations Mr. Friedman! 

    We worked with Mr. Friedman at Lincolnwood and very highly recommend him! He has many years of experience in the classroom.  He's highly respected by faculty and administrations, parents and students! 

    Walker is very lucky to have him!

  3. Social workers are teachers too

    I don't know Erik Friedman, but from the resume listed above, it lists that he was a social worker for 7 years.   Two years of being assistant principal is a good amount of experience in administration. 

    People who don't see what the daily life of a social worker is assume that social workers are all about feelings and mushy-gushy stuff.  THis is a wrong assumption.   They are some of the key personnel within a school community to know about the struggles, challenges, and successes of all people within a building.  

    WHile many social workers may not have their own classroom of 20 plus, most have caseloads that exceed 20 plus.  MOst social workers also have more experience than most teachers in seeing how many many types of classrooms work because they have to be in so many of them.  Social workers have a better opportunity to take a look at the macro-structure of a school, because they have to service an entire school.

    ONe of the best administrators I've ever worked under was first a social worker.

    Now, Erik Friedman may or may not be a good administrator- but I think his credentials are good 🙂

    I hope it's a good transition too!


  4. Walker is lucky

    The unanimous feeling at Washington about this news is that our deep loss is Walker's great gain.  I've not encountered a single person at Washington who doesn't think highly of Mr. Friedman.  He knows every child (which is saying a lot, because we have almost 500 kids), even those who don't make frequent trips to his office.  He has been an invaluable asset at Washington, especially since January when our principal began maternity leave and Mr. Friedman was Acting Principal.  He did a fabulous job and showed that he is ready to lead a school.  And for the record, Mr. Friedman and Washington's Principal, Kate Ellison, both have social work backgrounds, which has equipped them to deal with the myriad issues that any school in our district faces.  Their skills and talents and personalities that steered them into social work also serve them well as school administrators.  Walker parents, you are very lucky to have Mr. Friedman at your school's helm.

  5. Social work background is a real plus

    I am a classroom teacher, and in the past I might have been skeptical about an administrator who hadn't been a classroom teacher himself. But I'm also a Washington parent, and I have worked with Erik Friedman (and our principal, who also has a social work background), and I have been very impressed. No administrator will have walked the shoes of every different staff member that he or she supervises (the experience of a 5th grade teacher is very different from that of a kindergarten teacher, or a music teacher, or a special ed teacher). But the social workers are highly trained professionals with experience in empathic listening and problem solving, and I think those skills–along with the practical experience of the administrator's training–are more important than the actual classroom experience. I couldn't agree more with the writer who said that our deep loss is Walker's great gain.

    (And in my own job, if I could trade in my supervisor–who has loads of classroome experience but can't listen worth a nickel–for someone with a social work background, I would trade him in in a heartbeat!)

  6. Friedman Fan

    I stay out of the administrators' hair until I need them, knowing they have more than enough to do. So I didn't get to know Eric Friedman until we ended up having discipline problems with two of our children.

    Back to back, our children were the victims of some low-grade bullying, and then started creating problems on their own.

    I was impressed with the thoroughness and intensity with which Eric and Kate Ellison addressed these problems and took them on as their own.

    Their responses were immediate, appropriate, and effective, and I understood better why this was when I found out both Kate and Eric had so much social work experience.

    They handled these problems with empathy and compassion, not by following procedures out of a guideline manual.

    I am sorry to see him go, and wonder how Washington will find someone to fill his big, smelly shoes. Just kidding about the smelly part. This kind of forum needs to lighten up once in a while. 

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