BLOOM TOWNSHIP | The Sandridge Elementary District 172 board of education Wednesday officially approved Cindy Sowles as principal of Sandridge School for the 2012-13 school year.
Sowles has served as interim principal at the school since March, when she took over for former Principal Cheli Thomas.
Sowles began her work at Sandridge as a reading specialist last fall. She also has 14 years experience as a reading specialist and English teacher on the high school level.
"We went through a vigorous interview process," board President Kevin Pisano said. "We hired a search firm, and she's the best candidate."
Pisano said the move to replace Thomas had been a mutual agreement between Thomas and the board. He offered no specific reasons for the change other than the board was "looking to move in a different direction."
Pisano said Sowles is a good choice because of her strong background in curriculum and her familiarity with the school staff.
"I know the needs of the district after working here for a year," Sowles said. "So I kind of have a head start because I have that much experience."
Sowles said this past school year Sandridge School did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act and identified that as a goal of hers.
The board also approved Olivia Nieves as the district's new English Language Learner teacher.
Superintendent John Sawyer said the ELL program is for children who come from homes where the primary language spoken is Spanish.
He estimated about 40 of the school's roughly 450 students come from homes where Spanish is the dominant language.
Sawyer said Nieves is a graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School and DePaul University.
"This is her first full-time teaching job," Sawyer said. "She has worked as an ELL substitute teacher. She is fully qualified and certified as both a regular elementary teacher and as an ELL teacher."
Sandridge School, the only school in District 172, is located in unincorporated Bloom Township and serves students from parts of Chicago Heights, Lynwood and Sauk Village in grades kindergarten through eight.