Superintendent talks goals ahead of retirement


Champaign, Ill. (WCIA) — Today, Champaign School District Superintendent Susan Zola talked about the changes she still wants to see in the district before her approaching retirement.

Zola is leaving next year and the school board is already trying to find her replacement.

“I think it’s that time to sort of open up a new chapter,” says Zola.

That chapter began in 1991 when she first came to the Champaign School District. Zola will retire from her position in June 2021. That will mark her 30th year with the district.

“It’s been a part of my plan in terms of serving in this role,” says Zola.

When she was promoted from assistant superintendent to superintendent in 2017, Zola took the job knowing it’d be her last. She says she’s ready for more time with family, friends, and traveling. But there are a still a few things on Zola’s to-do list before she retires.

“I think most critical right now on my heart, and the hearts and minds of our staff and board is the achievement concerns among our African-American students,” says Zola. I think the strategic plan is to look hard and fast at what else we can do to mitigate the opportunity gap.”

She says the school board is in early stages of conversations with the city for developing some initiatives.

“It’s always going to be about addressing the needs of the whole child, and I think in our community, we’re starting to look at a whole family approach,” says Zola. “We believe when we address the needs of our families, that the children that we serve have more success academically in the classroom.”

And Zola says it will not be an easy goodbye after seeing the same familiar faces for so many years.

“As educators, we can say that we all work hard to do right by our families, by our children, by the students that we serve,” says Zola. “I’ll miss all those opportunities, but I also know it’s time for someone else to have that opportunity to serve. It’s a privilege to serve as the superintendent.”

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