by Susan O’Neill
KANELANDâ€”When Kaneland McDole Elementary School opened in 2005, school principal Fran Eggleston faced a huge challenge. A number of the families did not want their children relocated, and teachers and other staff did not want to be reassigned.
Four years later, McDole is known in the district as the â€œhappy school.â€
Although she provided the vision for McDole, Eggleston is quick to say she could not have done it alone.
â€œIt was a group effort,â€ she said. â€œThere was a common thread of doing what’s best for the kids. It took a lot of collaboration and working together. We have huge respect for each other.â€
Recently, Eggleston was honored for her success at McDole when she was chosen Kane County Administrator of the Year.
McDole social worker Vikki Moehler, who works closely with Eggleston, said her calm demeanor allows her to work effectively with both students and parents.
Moehler recalled when McDole first opened, there were some parents that were negative about their children’s move to a new school.
â€œI remember thinking, ‘If she can handle all these angry parents, she can do anything,’â€ Moehler said.
Eggleston began her career as a special education teacher. She said her sister was blind, and she saw what her parents went through to obtain services for her.
â€œI had a heart for these kids,â€ she said.
Part of her responsibilities as principal was to work with teachers and other professional staff to create individual education plans for the special education students.
â€œShe was always willing to think outside the box,â€ Moehler said. â€œI never heard her say, ‘We can’t,’ or ‘We’ve never done that before.’ It was always, ‘Let’s see if we can make it work.’â€
Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick said Eggleston has created a wonderful learning environment at McDole.
â€œThe organization reflects her leadership,â€ he said. â€œWe hear wonderful things from parents and staff.â€
With the new school year, Eggleston will take on the role of director of special education for the district. Laura Long, whose child was a student at McDole since second grade, said she has good memories of her daughter’s years there.
â€œThere will be a lot of parents who will be sorry to see Eggleston leave the school for the district, but we know our children’s lives have been touched with just having her as their leader, as principal of McDole,â€ she said.