New superintendent inspired to teach by mom
District 84 Superintendent David Katzin read a story to Sarah Mueller's kindergarten class Sept. 4. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:11AM
Franklin Park — David Katzin, who started as superintendent of Franklin Park District 84 this year, was inspired to enter education by his mother.
Katzin grew on the Northwest Side of Chicago, near Harlem and Addison. His mother was a Chicago school teacher.
“It was a very blue-collar community,” Katzin said. “You didn’t see a whole lot. What I saw was what my mom did when she went to work every day. That’s what kind of led me down that path.”
Katzin attended Lane Tech High School.
“Looking back, I would hope my kids have a more well-rounded experience than I did,” Katzin said. “I think schools are much more focused upon needs of individual kids than they were 20 to 25 years ago. And that was a large school. It was easy to be lost in the shuffle.”
Katzin went on to Southern Illinois University, where he decided he wanted to teach. He taught for three years in Chicago, and then decided to earn a master’s in educational administration from Northeastern Illinois University, so he could get into the administrative level.
“Knowing as much impact as I could have in the classroom, your sphere of influence expands as you go higher,” he said.
Katzin taught sixth through eighth grades over seven years at two schools in high poverty areas in Chicago. He then found employment as an assistant principal at Mannheim Middle School in District 83 for four years.
He served as a principal in Villa Park schools for six years before returning to this area to succeed David Nemek as superintendent in District 84.
“We have an outstanding teaching staff and a very supportive community,” Katzin said. “When you put those two things together, that is a pretty strong recipe for success.”
As for challenges, Katzin sees the same ones other school districts face. Those include late payments from the state, new standards for evaluating teachers and principals and the multi-year task of transitioning to the new Common Core standards.
“The challenge relates to using the student growth data effectively,” Katzin said. “We want to know that kids are growing at a rate that is appropriate.”
That involves using standardized testing, which can be useful, but also problematic.
“Predetermined benchmarks, it’s a one-size-fits-all approach,” Katzin said. “What about kids who are already meeting benchmarks? What about kids who may be far behind benchmarks?”
As a former principal, Katzin worked with curriculum and the transition to the Common Core standards for several years.
“I feel comfortable in this role,” he said.