CALUMET CITY | Creg Williams, the superintendent of Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215, said he sees his receipt of an award honoring African-American men and their contributions to society as being recognition of great things happening in the south suburbs.
Williams is among 50 men this year who will receive the “Men of Excellence” honor, which the Chicago Defender newspaper has awarded for the past six years.
The Defender is a historically African-American oriented newspaper in Chicago.
“I see this as a great opportunity to make people aware of what is happening in District 215,” Williams said. “It is recognition that we are doing good things here.”
District 215, with high schools in Lansing and Calumet City, has a student body that is about two-thirds African-American. Yet Williams cites the fact that it has a 92 percent graduation rate, along with a rate of 90 percent of its students applying to colleges and universities, and just over 80 percent being accepted to some sort of higher education program.
“We’re doing some things right here, and it’s nice to see that we’re getting some recognition for that,” Williams said.
Recipients will be recognized Jan. 31 at a ceremony at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, in Chicago. State Farm Insurance is helping to sponsor the event.
Those receiving the award were picked from various fields including business, education and government.
Recipients this year include Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans, Eric Curry, of Aunt Martha’s Youth Service, and Jonathan L. Jackson, of Chicago State University, also a son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Williams, who lives in South Holland, has been superintendent of the south suburban-based high school district since 2007.
He served a year as superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools, and also was a consultant for the Prince George’s County School District in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.
But Williams also had extensive service in the Chicago Public Schools, working his way up from being a teacher at Chicago Vocational School to being a chief officer for the school system back when now-Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Paul Vallas was the schools CEO in the 1990s. Williams also served as deputy chief academic officer for the School District of Philadelphia when Vallas moved there from Chicago in 2001.