The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board tonight named new principals for Nichols Middle School and Lincolnwood Elementary School.

Sarah Mendez is the new principal at Nichols, replacing Gordon Hood who is retiring after 10 years as head of the middle school.

School Superintendent Hardy Murphy said Mendez has taught in District 65 since 2005. She’s currently the district’s bilingual education coordinator and has taught at Washington Elementary School.

She has a master’s degree from Concordia University in Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and previously taught in the Chicago public schools.

Fred Hunter is the new principal at Lincolnwood, moving up from holding the position on an interim basis.

Hunter has taught at District 65 since beginning his teaching career in 2000.

He’s been a math teacher at Haven Middle School and an assistant principal at Haven.

He holds a master’s degree from National Louis University and a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University.

Hunter, who grew up in Evanston, said he benefitted from great support in the schools here as a and considers it an honor and privilege to be able to serve the community now as the school’s principal.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. New principal at Nichols
    I am so disappointed that the new principal at Nichols seems to have no middle school experience and is a first-time principal. Gordon Hood is a strong leader and I am very worried that Nichols will deteriorate as someone green to the role and green to Nichols steps in. Sarah Mendez does not appear to have any of the experience the PTA asked for in a candidate.

    1. I agree. Ms. Mendez has only
      I agree. Ms. Mendez has only been in the district 5 years. She does not have the experience as a principal, nor as a middle school teacher, which I find disturbing. I think it has been shown that Dr. Murphy has begun to hire principals w/little or no experience…case in point, Oakton, and use them as his puppets.

  2. A new trend from Hardy Murphy?
    It seems there might be a trend Hardy Murphy has started – hiring principals with little to no experience.

    Fred Hunter, who began his education career just nine years ago, is a first-time principal – he has been interim principal at Lincolnwood for this school year – seven months. Granted he was also assistant principal at Haven, I would have been more comfortable with someone with more experience as a principal. I’ve heard other parents express the same sentiments.

    I’m not sure how true it is but I’ve heard that there were other candidates for the Lincolnwood principal position that had considerable experience as principal.

    Leadership experience is critical now more than ever. We’re in a fiscal crisis.

    D65 has laid off 29 teachers. Unemployment is at 12.2 percent, the state is going bankrupt and not sending schools money, and there will be inevitably larger classrooms. Also, consider the possibility of redistricting at Lincolnwood, and that many parents were very unhappy waiting in long lines last month to register their children.

    D65 schools will be squeezed for more resources, and inevitably will have to make hard decisions. I can almost guarantee you that sooner or later there will be some controversy involving parents and the school district or perhaps a principal.

    There are a lot of serious problems that challenge not only D65 but the district’s principals.

    Doesn’t it make more sense to hire experienced principals who have the acquired skills, the knowledge and with it the air of confidence to face such challenges?

  3. New Principal at Nichols
    I respectfully disagree. The magnet school that my children attend had a dissapointing string of 7 experienced principals in 8 years (or something like that) only to be put in the care of a first-time principal, who, by all accounts, is doing an excellent job. I would ask Nichol’s parents in general to give the first-time principal the benefit of the doubt and a healthy dose of patience for Ms. Mendez to adjust to her new role and responsibilities.

    1. I second that
      Those of us at KL are loving our new “inexperienced” principal. Dr Murphy hit a home run on this one!

  4. New principal at Nichols
    probably best to go with a candidate we already know is qualified—perhaps Barb Hiller would like her old job back.

  5. Sometimes NEW will surprise you!
    Dr. Jeff Brown has been a breath of fresh air at King Lab. Yes, he too is a first time principal and we LOVE him! As a previous writer stated, he is the best thing to happen to KL in a string of 7 ‘experienced” principals who failed before he took over the reigns. Thank you Dr. Murphy for taking the chance on Dr. Brown. We appreciate his strong leadership, enthusiasm for the job, genuine caring for the students, the school, the parents and the community at large.

    Dr. Brown, if you read this blog – STAY at KL. The parents (and students) are HUGE fans and view you as a tremendous asset to our school – yes, new principal status and all!

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