BY CAROL ROEHM
Phil Cox, who has been a presence at Danville High School since 2008, will serve as the high school’s principal starting July 1.
Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, who has served several years as a principal in Peoria and most recently has been the district transformation officer for Springfield Public Schools, will become District 118’s associate superintendent of schools on July 1.
Both will fill vacancies created when Associate Superintendent Dianna Kirk and DHS Principal Mark Neil retire at the end of the school year.
Superintendent Mark Denman said 31 applied for the associate superintendent position, while 15 applied to be high school principal. The entire school board joined Denman during the final interviews for both positions.
Cox started his career in education as a social studies and foreign language teacher at Bradley-Bourbonnais High School in 2002 before coming to Catlin High School, where he taught social studies from 2005-2008.
He was a dean at DHS during the 2008-2009 school year and has been assistant principal/director of ACE House at DHS since 2009.
During his five-year tenure at DHS, Cox has served on numerous committees, including ones involved with upper house restructuring, accreditation, credit recovery, school improvement, alternative transition, graduation, DHS leadership, reduction in force, school improvement and district improvement.
Board President Bill Dobbles told Cox at Wednesday night’s school board meeting, “You were head and shoulders above all the applicants we interviewed.”
Cox said he “automatically fell in love with Danville High School” the first year he worked there, and after consulting with Neil about the post, “I knew I had the skills necessary to be principal.”
Cox said he has been working with the DHS leadership team on future plans to align curriculum to common core standards and to write literary-based and content-based assessments that will allow teachers to gather data about students.
“The second step is creating an intervention to help struggling kids,” he said.
“We’re going to continue with the House structure, because we have seen an increase in graduation rate, an increase in attendance, an increase in test scores and a decrease in suspensions,” he said.
Denman said, “Mr. Cox is a hard-working and earnest young administrator who demonstrates a strong grasp of the important educational issues facing the American high school along with a commendable work ethic — a strong combination for Danville High School.
“The founding administrator of the ACE House at DHS, Mr. Cox is an astute educator who not only correctly assesses a challenge, but can effectively address it with integrity and professionalism,” he added.
Cox’s recommended salary is $95,000, plus benefits.
Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, a native of St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands, started her career with the Tri-County Urban League in Peoria.
She then served as assistant principal of Roosevelt Magnet School in Peoria from 1998-2001, principal of Whittier Primary School in Peoria from 2001-2008, principal of Peoria Manual Academy High School from 2008-2011 and currently serves as district transformation officer of Springfield Public Schools.
“I see you as a mover and a shaker in the district,” board member Gina McGuire told Desmoulin-Kherat at the board meeting. “I’m excited about the direction you and Mr. Denman can take our district in.”
Desmoulin-Kherat told the audience at the meeting, “I’m very excited about joining my new family in Danville.”
She praised Danville for being “a community focused on student achievement.”
She said “the leadership possibilities, the ongoing professional development and the possibility of increasing student learning” are what captivated her attention and prompted her to apply for the associate superintendent post.
“Teamwork makes a dream work,” she said.
Denman said, “Dr. Desmoulin-Kherat has the knowledge, interpersonal skills, varied educational experience, commitment, work ethic and vision to well lead our district’s instructional programming.”
“She brings a collaborative and innovative manner coupled with a student-centered educational philosophy that will serve our district well,” he said.
Desmoulin-Kherat’s recommended salary is $130,000, plus benefits.