Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

North Boone School District borrows
NIU professor for interim superintendency

July 16, 2007

by Mark McGowan

Joe Saban, a professor of educational leadership in the NIU College of Education, has found short-term headquarters at the Poplar Grove office of the North Boone School District.

Saban, superintendent in McHenry County’s Community High School District 155 for nine years before his retirement in 2002, is sharing the interim superintendency with former colleague Tom Wensch.

North Boone school board members voted Monday to hire Saban and Wensch to temporarily fill the vacant top job. Former chief Michael Houselog is the new superintendent in the neighboring Belvidere School District.

Wensch, who just retired from the Crystal Lake-based District 155, already is on the job. Saban expects to begin later this week.

“We’re actively searching for a permanent replacement. With some good luck, we’ll have a full-time superintendent on board to finish out the school year,” Saban said. “Although this is not a long-term situation, the board is required to have a certified superintendent to do some of the work, sign some of the papers and oversee operations.”

Saban has remained close to the public school during his years at NIU, where he has taught and advised working superintendents who are seeking doctoral degrees and other educators pursuing superintendent’s certificates.

“I’ve never really left. I stay current with that stuff. It’s part of my duties,” he said. “I feel comfortable with being able to deliver what they want.”

Although Saban’s niece attends a North Boone school, his knowledge of the schools there is somewhat limited. However, he expects to fully familiarize himself with the rural district that encompasses two small villages, one large gated community and countless acres of farms.

He’s already discovered needs related to curriculum matters, an area of expertise for some faculty in the college’s Department of Teaching and Learning. “I hope to bring some of the resources from the university to North Boone,” said Saban, a member of the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations.

When school board leaders approached Saban, he suggested they include Wensch.

“We have different interest and talents,” Saban said. “Neither of us will do everything.”

Saban, who holds four degrees from NIU, joined District 155 in 1973 as a science teacher.

In 1983, he became the district’s director of business and finance. From 1986 to 1993, when he was named to the top job, Saban served as assistant superintendent for finance and staff development.

His professional affiliation with the NIU College of Education began in 1995.

Wensch, also an NIU graduate, is an adjunct professor in the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations.