Meet our Fall 2013 Community Learning Series panelists

All are welcome to join the NIU College of Education for the Community Learning Series: Superintendents’ Summit on Oct. 24 at the Barsema Alumni Visitor Center. The event will feature a networking reception at 5 p.m. and panel of NIU alumni and friends who are currently the superintendents in the Sycamore, DeKalb, Rockford and Wheaton school systems at 6 p.m.

Kathy Countryman

Kathy Countryman

Kathy Countryman is the superintendent for Sycamore School District 427, based in Sycamore, Ill. She has resided there with her family since 1995. Kathy understands the importance the community of Sycamore places on education and strives to create school and community partnerships that enhance the lives of all stakeholders.

She received her undergraduate and masters degrees in education from the University of Iowa. She also holds a superintendent endorsement from Western Illinois University. Kathy spent eight years teaching in Iowa before moving to Illinois. Her administrative career began in Indian Prairie #204 in Naperville as an assistant principal. Her tenure with Sycamore Schools began the fall of 2000, as the principal of Southeast Elementary School. In 2004, Kathy was appointed assistant superintendent. In 2012, she was appointed superintendent.

James Briscoe

James Briscoe

James Briscoe is the superintendent for DeKalb School District 428. He arrived in DeKalb in 2008, when he began his tenure as superintendent for DeKalb CUSD 428.  Under his leadership, the district opened an $80 million high school in 2011, and continues working with NIU to expand partnership schools.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from NIU. He began his teaching career in 1982 at Johnsburg Unit School District #112 in McHenry, Ill., where he worked as a sixth grade social studies and math teacher, a junior high dean of students, and assistant principal at the high school.  From there, he went to Round Lake Unit School District #116 in Round Lake, Ill., as a high school principal, and then moved to the Elmbrook Unit School District in Brookfield, Wis., where he also served as high school principal.  In 2002, he became superintendent of the Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 in Oak Lawn, Ill.. 

Brian L. Harris

Brian Harris

Brian L. Harris is the superintendent for Wheaton Warrenville CUSD #200, where he manages a $155 million budget and more than 1,700 employees. The district is currently implementing a five-year technology initiative and capital development plan to prepare all classrooms for 21st-century learning.

He received his undergraduate degree in secondary education from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, and earned his masters and doctorate degrees from NIU.  He previously worked as area assistant superintendent for 6-12 education in St. Charles CUSD #303, where he also worked as assistant superintendent for human resources and assistant superintendent for learning and teaching, and as the principal of Haines Middle School in that district.

Other career experience includes working as a junior high principal in Mt. Prospect, Ill., a curriculum coordinator for social studies and an associate principal in Barrington, Ill., and as a seventh grade history teacher, varsity girls’ basketball coach, and assistant principal in Yorkville (Ill.) CUSD #115. His career began in 1987 as a social studies teacher for Waterman Jr.-Sr. High School in Waterman (Ill.) CUSD #425.

Ehren Jarrett

Ehren Jarrett

Ehren Jarrett is the newly appointed superintendent for Rockford (Ill.) Public Schools. He assumed his current role July 1, 2013. An active community member, Jarrett lives in Rockford with his wife, Christie, and their two children. He serves as a member of the Alignment Rockford Governing Board and is a member of the United Way Annual Campaign Cabinet. He is also a member of the Discovery Center Board of Directors, the Joint Institute of Technology Education-Aerospace and the Rockford Area Economic Development Council Education Committee.

Jarrett earned his doctorate in educational leadership from NIU.

He joined the district’s leadership team in June 2011 as an assistant superintendent. Before that, he was principal at Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Ill., for four years.  During that time, Newsweek and the Washington Post recognized Hononegah as one of the top schools in the country. While at Hononegah, Jarrett was a teacher and assistant principal. He was an assistant principal at Rockford’s East High School from 2004 to 2005.

Dr. Patrick Roberts, chair of the College of Education’s Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF), will moderate the discussion.

This event is free and open to the public. To register, contact Kate Braser at or by calling (815) 753-8370.