Tag Archives: Brian Graber

John Stewart will have new principal

Assistant Principal Laura Garland to replace Brian Graber
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn will have a new principal for the 2010-11 school year, seven-year district employee Laura Garland. Garland said she plans to follow the current principal’s example of community involvement and commitment to student learning, she said.

Garland will replace Brian Graber, who announced early last week that he accepted a job as principal of Highlands Elementary School in LaGrange Highlands School District 106 in LaGrange, Ill. Graber announced his decision early last week.

Garland, of Sugar Grove, has worked for Kaneland since 2003, as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher and a reading specialist at John Shields Elementary School in Sugar Grove, and most recently as the assistant principal for two schools simultaneously, John Shields and John Stewart.

Garland’s goal when she begins in her new position is to continue the positive development Graber was responsible for while at the school’s helm, she said. Garland cited his initiatives, including reaching out to the community with resident coffees and a school newsletter, and focusing on learning through efforts such as tracking student-progress data.

“I will continue to move forward in this positive way,” Garland said.

Her predecessor, Graber, accepted the position in LaGrange Highlands in part because the school is close to his home in Western Springs, Ill. He and his family had hoped to move to the Kaneland area from Western Springs, but the housing market did not make it feasible, he said.

“It’s been a bit of a commute (to Elburn),” Graber said.

The main reason he took the job was because of his family.

“I have a 3- and 1-year-old at home, and sometimes when I leave in the morning they are still asleep and when I get home at night they are already in bed,” Graber said.

Graber is looking forward to working closer to home, but said he will miss John Stewart and the Kaneland area.

“It was a phenomenal year out here,” Graber said.

Graber became John Stewart’s principal in 2009. Previously, he was an assistant principal in Elmhurst District 205.

Until his last day at John Stewart in late June, Graber will work closely with Garland to help her acclimate to the principal position. He feels comfortable leaving the school’s leadership in her hands.

“We (he and Garland) have been very much on the same page all year long, so I feel it will be a good transition,” Graber said.

Making it official
Kaneland Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler proposed Laura Garland for the John Steward Elementary School principal job during a special School Board meeting on Tuesday.

“I can recommend her to you without hesitation-she is the right person,” Schuler said. “She has an extensive background in reading (education) and administration,” Schuler said.

The Kaneland District 302 School Board decided in a 4-0 vote to accept his recommendation to hire Garland to replace Brian Graber, who accepted a position in another district. Present at the meeting were the board’s new president, Cheryl Krauspe, and board members Ken Carter, Elmer Gramley and Robert Myers.

Garland will receive an annual salary of $78,000.

Schuler said the district will advertise the assistant principal position she is vacating.

“We have time to make sure we get the right person in place for that position,” Schuler said.

Principal for the day

8-year-old takes on school official’s tasks
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Second-grader Ben Durbala, 8, was in charge at John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn on Friday, serving as Principal for the Day. He was excited about the unique opportunity, which he won in a silent auction at a PTO fundraiser.

“I’ve never been a principal before, of course, because I’m just a kid, and I wanted to find out what it would be like,” Ben said.

The reason he was interested in being Principal for a Day is because he wants to follow in the footsteps of his dad, who is a school principal in Downers Grove.

“I want to be one when I grow up,” Ben said.

Ben took his role on Friday very seriously, and was enthusiastic about everything he did, said John Stewart principal Brian Graber.

Ben prepared for the day beforehand and was ready to go when he got to school that morning, Graber said. Ben’s first task was to read the morning announcements on the school intercom.

Graber always starts the announcements with, “Today is a splendid day to be at John Stewart” or “Today is a terrific day to be at John Stewart.” In preparing the day before, Ben came up with another descriptive word. He announced to his fellow students over the intercom, “This is principal Ben Durbala. Today is an exceptional day to be at John Stewart.”

Ben wore a lavalier tag during the day identifying him as the school principal. He did five classroom walk-throughs with Graber, part of the principal’s daily routine. Ben chose which teachers’ classes to visit, and then offered feedback to them on what he saw, mostly “Great job” and “excellent,” he said.

Ben also was able to send comments to the teachers about changes he would like to see at the school, using Principal Graber’s official e-mail address. After complimenting his teacher, Mrs. Hensley, and the other teachers for working hard to make school exciting and full of learning, he suggested that the school have physical education every day and eliminate the rule against having candy in class.

He closed the e-mail by saying he hoped they all had a nice Mother’s Day.

A lunch with Principal Graber had to be postponed because he had an unexpected school matter that needed his attention and had to leave the building for awhile. But the two will reschedule the lunch for a later date.

Graber said serving as principal on Friday offered Ben a window into what the job entails.

“Before, he saw pieces of it, but on Friday, he could get a better idea of what it is about, including having to roll with things and be flexible,” Graber said.

Ben said nothing about his day changed his mind about wanting to be a principal someday.

“I liked doing pretty much everything,” he said.

Photo: Ben Drabala, a second-grader at John Stewart Elementary School, occupied the principal’s chair on Friday, when he was Principal for the Day. While on duty, he sent e-mail comments from the principal’s office to the school’s teachers, visited several classrooms and read the morning announcements over the intercom. Photo by Martha Quetsch

New Stewart principal starts July 1

Former principal leaves for new position
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Brian Graber takes over as principal for the Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School for the 2009-10 school year beginning Wednesday, July 1. Former principal Rebecca Dahn left the district to become principal of Fremont Middle School in Mundelein, Ill.

Dahn had been with the Kaneland District for six years, the last five as principal at John Stewart. During her tenure as principal, she said her accomplishments included increasing student achievement at the school by 10 percent and hiring a number of good staff members.

According to Associate Superintendent for Kaneland School District Jeff Schuler, Graber emerged as the top candidate after an extensive interviewing process. Graber accepted the offer last Friday.

“He brings a great wealth of experience to us,” Schuler said.

Graber was an assistant principal in the Elmhurst School District prior to coming to Kaneland, and was an elementary education teacher in Western Springs, Ill., before that.