Maurice McDavid named principal of new DeKalb elementary school

DeKalb School District 428 school board approves contract with DeKalb native, former DeKalb High School dean

Maurice McDavid, DeKalb native and former DeKalb High School administrator, has been named the first principal for Dr. Leroy A. Mitchell School, the district's new elementary school which is expected to open in 2025.

DeKALB – DeKalb School District 428 has tabbed Maurice McDavid as the principal of Dr. Leroy A. Mitchell School, 1240 Normal Road, DeKalb.

McDavid, a longtime DeKalb resident, former DeKalb High School dean and chairman of the DeKalb Citizen Police Review Board, said he’s excited to get to work at the district’s new elementary school.

The school board this week unanimously approved a $111,000 employment contract for McDavid that is effective July 1, school board documents show.

“I grew up in Edens Garden [Apartments,] and I understand some of the stigma Uptown receives,” McDavid said. “I’m looking forward to being able to serve, and we’re going to have success. I think that we’ll be able to silence some of the haters is honestly part of the idea. So I’m looking forward to that.”

The $33.8 million school building, once renovated from the former Northern Illinois University School of Nursing building, will serve 450 to 500 students, 53 teachers and 41 paraprofessionals, according to the district.

McDavid, who was most recently an elementary school principal in West Chicago, describes his leadership style as collaborative.

“I definitely am a servant leader,” he said. “I really consider the primary work that I do as a principal is to remove any and all barriers from our students, our families and our staff. I think if there’s something that’s getting in the way of our staff being able to do the job that they’re tasked with, I recognize our teachers are the ones at the ground level sitting in front of the kids putting in the work. So being able to remove any barrier from that teaching and learning process, I really see myself as a servant leader. I’m certainly a relational leader, somebody for whom relationships is really, really important. I want to know about my staff, students and families.”

Members of the Mitchell Family, including patriarch Leroy Mitchell, (third from left) are joined by District 428 Superintendent Minerva Garcia-Sanchez (middle) Thursday, April 11, 2024, to break ground for the new Dr. Leroy A. Mitchell Elementary School. The school will be located at 1240 Normal Road in DeKalb.

McDavid said he’s up for the challenge that comes with leading a new school that is named after Dr. Leroy A. Mitchell, a staunch advocate for education in the community.

“I’m excited about that challenge, honestly,” McDavid said. “One of the things that I think will help with that is I get an opportunity to be intentional with hiring and who is going to be part of that team. … I need them to have high expectations and I need them to have high love. And if we can have a high amount of love and a high amount of expectations, I think that we will be able to see some great things happen.”

McDavid said he plans to use his voice to be an advocate for literacy.

“I think literacy has to be key to have all our students in our building reading at or above grade level will be a primary focus,” he said. “I think some ways we’re going to get there are through full on use of culturally responsive pedagogy. I’ve done a lot of professional development, a lot of presentations and a lot of writing in the area of culturally responsive pedagogy as well as really thinking about the science of learning.”

McDavid’s ties to the community are strong.

While he works as a principal at Turner Elementary School in West Chicago, McDavid previously held positions as an assistant principal at Cortland Elementary School and dean of students at DeKalb High School. His wife, Samantha McDavid, is a former DeKalb school board president who resigned in July 2023 to pursue a new professional opportunity.

“I’m passionate about my community,” McDavid said. “I used to joke with folks, you know, I won the Mr. DHS competition in high school, right? For me, I’ve always wanted to rep[resent] my city. I think that’s something that’s really important.”

Minerva Garcia-Sanchez, DeKalb School District 428 superintendent, speaks Thursday, April 11, 2024, during the groundbreaking ceremony for Dr. Leroy A. Mitchell Elementary School. The school will be located at 1240 Normal Road in DeKalb.

McDavid holds a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education from Knox College, a master of education in educational administration from NIU and an education specialist degree in superintendency leadership from NIU. He said he believes it’s his passion for education that made him the right fit for the DeKalb job.

The new school is expected to open its doors to students in time for the start of classes in the fall of 2025.

McDavid made a plea to the community to remain engaged.

“Part of the work that I’ll be doing over the next year before the building opens is to really be intentional about building a sense of community around this building,” he said. “I will be part of hosting some more of those community conversations. I want people to come out. I want people to be part of the decision-making process as we make some important decisions about Mitchell Elementary School in the next few months to a year. I know that I cannot do this on my own. So I am imploring community members to continue to be a part of this process.”

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