Most of area’s ‘new’ principals are old hands at top school posts

The incoming principal at East St. Louis High School doesn’t yet bear the initials “Dr.” in front of his name, but students should expect to benefit from Marcus J. Wright’s dissertation anyway as it’s written for students in struggling areas.

His doctorate study finds that teachers must first use language that students are familiar with in order for students to fully comprehend what they are reading. He hopes to present the dissertation to Chicago State University in December. It’s titled: “A Case Study of School Leaders Transforming Schools Using Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Close the Achievement Gap Amongst African-American Males in Literacy.”

Wright’s studies are only part of what has prepared him for his new role, he was a principal at various Chicago Public Schools for about six years. His time there, he said, helped “fine-tune the lens” through which he will view and guide the school.

“East St. Louis is a city rich in can see that when you interact with students, because of that I felt like this was home,” Wright said.

His vision for the school is entirely upon the incoming freshman class, he said, who will be the first to have a new graduation system. During the sophomore year under this new system, students will declare their intended diploma and take classes toward that goal.

They’ll have four options to choose from: distinguished, preferred, career and technical, and traditional. “Distinguished” students will take more classes, earning between 26 and 28 credits, and will take five Advanced Placement courses with a concentration in math, science or humanities, according to Wright.

East St. Louis High School has a career and technical education program, he said, which incorporates welding, electrical, engineering, pipe-fitting, construction and certified nurses assistant.

Wright said Superintendent Art Culver had first investigated the idea because of its focus on what students will do after high school.

Wright doesn’t refer to the incoming class as that of 2019; they are the class of 2023 to him, representing graduates from four-year colleges.

Last year, 97 percent of students starting with the senior class graduated; the school has an overall 73 percent graduation rate. Wright said 85 percent of last year’s freshman are on track to graduate on time.

Wright’s salary is $109,333.

“I’m confident in the school itself,” he said. “They (staff) understand the population and its needs.”

Contact reporter Mary Cooley at or 618-239-2535. Follow her on Twitter: @MaryCooleyBND.

St. Clair County school leaders

Belleville District 118

Washington and Henry Raab Elementary Principal: Jamie Buss

Last post: Westhaven and Abraham Lincoln as administrative intern for one year; Central Junior High as a teacher six years

Education: Bachelor’s from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; master’s degree from McKendree University

Salary: $82,234

West Jr. High Principal: Gustavo Cotto

Last post: Principal at School of Choice in Cahokia for seven years, entering 16th year in education

Education: Bachelor’s degree from SIU-Carbondale and master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Salary: $91,062

Belleville District 201

Belleville East Principal: Jason Karstens

Last post: Assistant principal at Belleville East

Education: Bachelor’s from Murray State University, master’s from Southeast Missouri State, working on superintendent’s endorsement from Lindenwood University

Salary: $120,000

Cahokia District 187

Estelle Sauget School of Choice Principal: LaSandra Chism

Last Post: Lalumier principal one year, administrator five of the last 6 years

Education: Not provided

Salary: $93,680 with teacher retirement

Lalumier Elementary Principal: Cynthia Schaefer

Last Post: First year principal, was resource teacher at Lalumier

Education: Not provided

Salary: $91,692.41 with teacher retirement

Mascoutah School District 19

Mascoutah Elementary Principal: Kim Enriquez

Last post: Principal in Belleville District 118 for nine years

Education: Bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, superintendent's endorsement from SIUE

Salary: $97,000

Shiloh Village School District 85

Shiloh Elementary Principal: Lori Murphy

Last post: Marissa elementary principal for three years, teacher there for six years prior

Education: Bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Salary: $72,210

O’Fallon Community Consolidated District 90

Superintendent: Carrie E. Hruby

Last post: Superintendent, Ball-Chatham School District 5 in Chatham for three years; assistant superintendent prior to that for eight years

Education: Bachelor’s from Millikin University, master’s from Eastern Illinois University, superintendents’ endorsement from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Hruby is working on her doctorate dissertation at Illinois State University.

Current salary: $142,000

Zion Lutheran School

Principal: Ananda Baron

Last post: At Zion for 13 years as a teacher, first year as principal

Education: Bachelor’s from Concordia University in Seward, Neb.

Salary: Not provided

Madison County 

Edwardsville District 7

Superintendent: Lynda Andre

Last post: Assistant superintendent for curriculum at Edwardsville since 1999. Also has served as adjunct graduate faculty at SIUE in curriculum and instruction and educational leadership, and co-authored two college textbooks for education courses.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University, master’s from SIUE and holds a Type 75 certificate in superintendent and educational leadership

Salary: Not provided

Venice District 1

Principal: DeMario Bell

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Jarvis Christian College of Hawkins, Texas; master’s degree from Lindenwood University. Certification in special education K-12 from Lindenwood and administrator’s licensure from Lindenwood

Last post: Taught in St. Louis Public Schools, East St. Louis District 189 and Venice District 1 for more than 15 years, including six years as assistant principal in East St. Louis

Salary: $69,000

Clinton County

Breese District 12

Interim Superintendent: John Mullett

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from McKendree University; certification of principalship from SIUE; specialist for superintendent from the University of Illinois

Last post: Retired as superintendent in Litchfield after having been Breese Superintendent for four years. Because of retirement statute, he can work only 100 days a year.

Salary: Not provided

Information provided to News-Democrat reporters Mary Cooley and Elizabeth Donald.