Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 announced that Emerson Middle School Associate Principal Samantha Alaimo has been selected to become its next principal, while David Szwed has been named as Lincoln Middle School’s new principal. Both appointments were confirmed by the Board of Education at its May 20, 2019 meeting, and will be effective July 1.
Mrs. Alaimo was the first to fill the new position of Emerson’s Associate Principal created for the 2018-19 school year when a third administrator was added at Emerson, D64’s largest building. As Associate Principal, Mrs. Alaimo worked alongside Principal Jim Morrison and Assistant Principal Tim Benka in providing oversight for close to 900 students and 100 staff members.
“Mrs. Alaimo has steadily grown during her time at Emerson, as she has moved from teacher to administrator, and now principal,” according to Dr. Olson. “She is a dynamic, reflective leader, who cares deeply for the students, staff, and families of the Emerson community, and she stood out as an outstanding candidate during the interview process,” he noted.
“Mrs. Alaimo’s depth of knowledge regarding best practice, her focus on restorative justice, and her passion for the growth of all will benefit Emerson and District 64 for many years to come,” Dr. Olson added.
Mrs. Alaimo also serves as a member of District 64’s Middle School Review Committee, which is exploring potential updates to the middle school program and schedule. She also facilitates and co-leads Emerson’s data, behavior, crisis management, support services, benchmark and quality improvement teams. Previously, Mrs. Alaimo taught sixth grade Language Arts and mathematics in the Channels of Challenge program for two years at Emerson.
Before joining District 64, Mrs. Alaimo served for five years as a grades 6-8 mathematics and language arts teacher at Laura Ward STEM Elementary School in Chicago. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mrs. Alaimo has a master’s degree from Concordia University, where she is also pursuing her doctorate.
District 64 will begin the search for a new Associate Principal for Emerson shortly.
Mr. Szwed, Lincoln’s new principal, comes to District 64 from Schaumburg District 54, where he has served for three years as principal of Margaret Mead Junior High and previously for five years as Assistant Principal at Jane Addams Junior High.
“We are very excited to welcome Mr. Szwed to Lincoln,” according to Dr. Olson. “Mr. Szwed is a native of Park Ridge, and quickly rose to the top as an ideal candidate to join District 64. He has a caring, energetic nature that comes out in his passion for students and education,” Dr. Olson noted.
“His extensive middle school experience, his knowledge of curriculum and best practice, and his focus on relationships will make him a fantastic addition to the District 64 family,” Dr. Olson added.
Before relocating back to the Chicago metro area, Mr. Szwed served in the Albuquerque Public School System, including two years as a middle school Dean and then as a middle school Assistant Principal. He began his teaching career as a middle school language arts teacher in Albuquerque.
A graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, Mr. Szwed holds a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico.
District 64 conducted the search for the Emerson and Lincoln principals simultaneously, selecting both following an intensive review process from an initial pool of 54 applicants. For both schools, paper and phone screenings yielded six semi-finalists, who were interviewed twice by an administrative committee of both central office and building administrators.
For Emerson, two finalists then met with a committee of Emerson staff members, parents, administrators, and a Board of Education member before Dr. Olson selected Mrs. Alaimo as Emerson’s next principal -- only the third in the school’s history.
For Lincoln, two finalists met with a committee of Lincoln staff members, parents, two Board of Education members and administrators before Dr. Olson selected Mr. Szwed as Lincoln’s next principal.
Opportunities for D64 and their school communities to congratulate Mrs. Alaimo and welcome Mr. Szwed are being planned prior to the opening of the 2019-20 school year.
PHOTO: Mr. David Szwed and Mrs. Samantha Alaimo