Principal promoted to superintendent
River Grove Elementary Principal Glenn Grieshaber is now the new superintendent for District 85.5. Here, he serves up pancakes to Amanda Airdo, 9, in the school's pancake breakfast on Dec.10, 2011. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:23AM
After serving as principal at River Grove Elementary School District 85.5 for five years, Glenn Grieshaber is the district’s new superintendent.
After an outpouring of teachers and parents showed up at the school district’s April 24 board meeting in support of Grieshaber, the board decided unanimously May 8 to go with Grieshaber.
The job is effective July 1.
“I think we found the best person to fill the slot,” said School Board President Marlene Flahaven.
Grieshaber was one of two candidates being considered for the job, out of over 50 applicants. Current superintendent, John Bartelt, will be leaving to work for another school district in July, is helping Grieshaber make the transition to the new post.
Bartelt said Grieshaber’s familiarity with the community and the school district will work to his advantage as superintendent.
“I believe he has what it takes to get the job done,” he said
An official contract has not been put together between Grieshaber and the school district as of yet.
“We have a letter of understanding and the details have not been discussed,” Grieshaber said. “We are working on faith right now.”
He has no reservations that things will change in regards to his new position. He also expects a multi-year contract and a salary that will be a little lower than his predecessor, but comparable with his experience. Bartelt made about $138,000 a year and was just starting the first year of a three-year contract before deciding to leave.
Grieshaber, 57, hopes to bring his own style of running the district and some of his goals is to build on improving on the success the district has achieved and that means more revenue. He favors the district seeking a referendum and persuade residents to vote in favor of a property tax increase for the school district.
“We’re spending less and we’re trying to produce more and there is a breaking point on that,” he said. “It’s the difference between being effective or thriving.”
“The reality of it is it has been 17 years since a successful referendum,” he said. “Now we have to be good providers of quality education.”
He said getting in line with government’s mandate that every student coming into a school district is learning the same thing that students in other districts are learning and showing the students have an adequate grasp of what is being taught.
Grieshaber believes this and more can be accomplished because the people he’s worked with in his previous position.
“It’s really a good core of people here,” he said. Everybody has been working for the same goal.”
Prior to coming to the school district, Grieshaber, started out teaching not too far away — at Rhodes School District 84.5 in River Grove. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1976 and received his master’s degree in education administration from Loyola University Chicago in 1981.
He has also taught abroad.
Prior to coming to River Grove he was the assistant direct of American School of Bangkok for two years, a school for non-natives living in Thailand. Before moving to Thailand he was the superintendent of American International School of Costa Rica, which taught local children as well as the children of foreigners who worked for companies in that country.
Both schools provided an education that was comparable enough for a graduate to attend a college or university in United States, which he said they often did.
He said his wife, Susan, of 36 years and his three children, who are now adults, all benefited from the experience. He currently lives in Evanston.
“It was good for our kids,” he said. “We were able to raise them in places where I could never have afforded to send them.”
Grieshaber also taught in Niles for 10 years before going abroad. He also dabbled in politics, as elected village president of Hawthorn Woods in 1989 for two years.
He said he chose education as his career partially because of his dad, but mostly because of his wife.
“My dad ran his own business and frankly I saw what that did to him,” he said.
“My wife knew what she wanted and I wanted her. She wanted to be a teacher and that was a big influence on me.”
And as the district’s new superintendent he hopes to influence young minds through his leadership in his new position.
“It keeps me right in the field I love,” he said about becoming superintendent. “It’s not only a promotion but it gives you an opportunity to change the flavor of the place, but keeps things the same.”