New DeKalb High School principal ready for challenges

Albano to take reins July 1 at DeKalb High School

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DeKALB – New DeKalb High School Principal Michele Albano comes to town from a school twice the size, but the challenges she faces here will be similar, and she’s ready to take them on, her current and soon-to-be bosses said.

DeKalb School District 428 board members voted Tuesday to hire Albano to take over the leadership of the high school. She’ll begin July 1 at an annual salary of $135,000, according to district data.

Since 2014, she has been assistant principal for curriculum at Bolingbrook High School, which is part of Valley View District 365U and has an enrollment of about 3,600.

But for most of the current school year, she has filled in for the principal, who is out on maternity leave, district Superintendent James Mitchem said.

“She’s very seasoned,” Mitchem said of Albano. “She’s very current on the expectations of the state and federal government in regards to ... student growth and student achievement.”

Albano, 48, is a veteran educator who has worked in Chicago-area school districts, including Chicago Public Schools, as well as the Hampshire, Dundee-Crown, Lyons Township, Lemont and Elgin school districts.

Albano has been an English teacher, and also has served as a counselor and been in leadership roles such as department chairwoman.

Both Mitchem and District 428 Superintendent Doug Moeller she is attuned to students’ needs and having experience with a diverse student body.

“Her whole career, she’s worked in high-poverty schools. She’s purposely done that,” said Moeller, who worked with Albano in the Elgin school district.

At Bolingbrook, the student body is predominately minority: 37 percent Hispanic, 22 percent white and 29 percent African-American.

More than half of the students (60 percent) are from low-income families, and about 82 percent of freshmen go on to graduate, according to Illinois School Report Card data.

Although District 428 is not quite as diverse, Albano will be met with demographics similar to what she has experienced at her current school. The 1,722 students enrolled at DeKalb are a mix of white (59 percent), Hispanic (21 percent) and African-American (13 percent).

And 50 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, according to state report card data.

Albano will replace Tamra Ropeter, whose contract was not renewed, in part because of fallout from a Black History Month assembly.

The incoming principal said that she is familiar with the February event, and is ready to help move the school beyond it.

“We really need to bring students into the conversation, as well as community members,” Albano said. “... We really just need to bring more voices in, from different perspectives, when we’re making decisions.”

Bio box

Michele Albano is the incoming DeKalb High School principal


Lives in Elgin
48 years old
No children
Enjoys working out, gardening, outdoors
(Source: LinkedIn profile)

Undergarduate degree: Loyola University
Graduate degree: Aurora University