MORRIS – Shabbona Middle School associate principal Tom McLaughlin gave his resignation Monday to take a new position and the school board followed with hiring his replacement.
Scott Stehlik was hired Monday by the Morris Elementary School District 54 Board to replace McLaughlin, who is resigning at the end of this school year to take a position as principal at Elwood Community Consolidated School District 203.
“I’ve been here for three years and the students are by far the best thing about my time here,” McLaughlin said after the board meeting. “I get to see them every day, and they have been awesome since day one.”
He has been working on his doctorate from University of St. Francis in educational administration and hopes to graduate in December 2015. He will have his superintendent endorsement when he is finished. He started his educational career as a social studies teacher.
“I’d like to thank everyone, the students, the teachers, and the staff who have been here for me in my career. I’m just ready for my own building, and Elwood is a great community,” McLaughlin said to the board.
Stehlik is a Wilmington High School graduate who worked at Reed-Custer Middle School before taking a job as dean and athletic director at Mount Carmel Middle School.
He will start in his position July 1.
“I’m excited to continue in the technology drive this district is working on,” he said. “I have a lot of energy, and I look forward to actively engaging the students.”
Stehlik, his wife Lara and daughter McKenna will return to the home they own in Minooka when they return to the area this summer.
“He is a dean and athletic director at Mount Carmel which is similar to our district, in that it has 350 kids in the sixth- through eighth-grade building,” Superintendent Teri Shaw said.
In addition to having to accept McLaughlin’s resignation, the board also voted on Shabbona secretary Kerry Dite’s resignation.
Board member Patrick Stevens asked that the two resignations be split into separate votes.
After the board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of McLaughlin, they voted 3-2 – with Stevens abstaining from the vote, and Dave Obrochta absent – to accept the resignation of Dite. Board members Bonnie Cap and Jerald White voted no.
Dite has held her position for the past 17 years.
“I am not returning to my position of secretary at Shabbona Middle School,” Dite’s resignation letter stated. “Due to the stress of this job, I can no longer be employed here.”
Cap said after the meeting that she has known Dite since her son attended Shabbona 11 years ago.
“In the 11 years that I have known Mrs. Dite I have witnessed her to not only be dedicated to her co-workers, but also to the teachers and most importantly to the children of the district. I have witnessed Mrs. Dite go above and beyond her call of duty in regards to the students,” Cap wrote in an email Tuesday.
“Once, while on-site I watched Mrs. Dite provide her own money to a student’s lunch account,” Cap’s email continued. “She truly cares not only about those children in the district but all children. Therefore, as an elected board member, a member of this community, and as a parent, I question why Mrs. Dite would leave so abruptly after 17 years of service, what has changed?”
Dite was not present at the board meeting Monday.
When contacted Tuesday, she declined to comment on specifics, but did say Shabbona has the best staff she’s ever had the pleasure of working with.