Holland school board selects Illinois school administrator as next superintendent

HOLLAND, MI — The Holland Board of Education has selected Shanie Keelean to become the district’s next superintendent.

Keelean is currently the Associate Superintendent of School Leadership and Development at Waukegan Community Unit School District #60 in Illinois.

The hiring is pending contract negotiations, but the new superintendent is expected to replace outgoing superintendent Brian Davis on July 1. Holland had 3,079 students enrolled in the 2020-21 school year.

The school board voted 6 to 1 to begin contract negotiations with Keelean at a special board meeting on June 3. Keelean was one of two finalists who were interviewed and attended a community town hall meeting to lead the district. She beat out Michael Pascoe, assistant superintendent of instruction at Portage Public Schools, for the position.

Six board members voted in favor of Keelean’s selection, and trustee Liz Colburn abstained in the vote. Colburn said she felt both finalists were qualified, but was unsure whether either nominee was suitable for Dutch public schools and wanted to call back other nominees.

A total of seven candidates were interviewed by the jury. Twenty-one people applied for the job, said Jay Bennett, assistant director of research services for the Michigan Association of School Boards.

At the June 3 meeting, board members discussed their impressions of Keelean and Pascoe based on interviews with references from the districts in which they currently work. Several board members noted that Keelean’s greatest strength was data-based.

“I sense from a lot of different comments that she studies quickly, she jumps straight into research and I think she learns quickly when it comes to diversity equity and inclusion,” the board chair said. school, Phil Meyer.

Meyer characterized Keelean as “aggressively confident” and thoughtful about how she wants to engage in the community.

Keelean was the only nominee to submit a 100-day plan to the board, administrator Mark Woltman said. He noted that Keelean wanted to build a better community for teachers by focusing not just on salary, but on morale.

“Being the son of a longtime HPS teacher, I think teacher morale and staff morale is one of the most important things here,” Woltman said.

The board also discussed the feedback received from the community during a town hall meeting with the finalists. Woltman read several comments from parents who said Keelean would make changes, that she sees diversity as a strength, and that she’s open to thinking outside the box.

Several board members said they felt the two candidates were closely tied, calling the vote “an incredibly difficult decision.” Directors Mike McKay and Colburn shared their initial preferences for Pascoe, but both ended up voting in favor of Keelean.

Keelean served as Associate Superintendent of School Leadership and Development for Waukegan Schools for three years. Prior to that, she served as District Manager for a year.

Keelean previously served as a principal, vice-principal and teacher in districts in Chicago and New York, according to LinkedIn.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Grand Valley State University, a master’s degree in elementary education and curriculum and instruction from Loyola, and a master’s degree in instructional leadership from National Louis University.

The new superintendent will officially take over on July 1, following Davis’ retirement at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Davis is the third-senior superintendent in the district’s 164-year history after serving the district for 21 years.

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Martha K. Merrill