Meet the superintendent
A message from Dr. Jeff Craig
Welcome to West Aurora School District 129, where we believe that every student should have access to a rigorous, comprehensive education as well as opportunities to develop their talents and passions. I would like to share some information about myself, what I believe in, and how my background and experiences are put to work for the students in West Aurora.
I am proud of the strides School District 129 has taken since my appointment as superintendent in 2014. With support from the loyal West Aurora community, we successfully passed an $84.2 million dollar referendum. This paved the way for an increase in our fund balance from 23 days to 133 days on-hand, placing us in a strong fiscal position. Additionally, we completed multiple building renovations, additions, and relocations, including the construction of a new career and technical education center dedicated to advanced manufacturing. Most importantly, passing the referendum ensured that every school in our district has an equitable and appropriate learning environment.
In addition to my responsibilities as superintendent, I serve as chairman of the Aurora Educational Commission, for which I was appointed by Aurora’s mayor, Richard C. Irvin. I value the opportunity the commission provides to engage in constructive dialogue on information and initiatives that benefit our Aurora area educational systems. Equally important, I serve as president of the John C. Dunham STEM School Governing Board, supporting a school that leverages nontraditional community partnerships to emphasize science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
My history in education includes having been a high school mathematics and industrial arts teacher, coach, dean, assistant principal, and principal. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Education-Industrial Arts from Northern Illinois University, a Master of Arts in Administration and Supervision from Loyola University Chicago, and a Doctorate of Education from the University of Illinois-Champaign.
Since my youth, wrestling has played an important role in my life. I wrestled on a high school state championship team and later lettered in the sport at Northern Illinois University. I am humbled to have been named a Distinguished Alumnus and a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame at Richards High School in Oak Lawn. I have been a member of various state, national, and international wrestling officials associations, and assisted in the leadership, organization, and direction of the wrestling portion of the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia.
In conclusion, I look forward to continuing my work in West Aurora, a community that I now call home. I am committed to working with the board of education, staff, parents, and families to ensure academic achievement and success for every student in School District 129.
WEST AURORA DISTRICT CHALLENGE COINS
West Aurora School District #129 kicked off the 2019-2020 school year with a new tradition, the presentation of a West Aurora Challenge Coin.
Challenge coins, which began as a military tradition, have become a widely recognized way of showing membership and boosting morale. West Aurora has minted a limited number of coins that will be presented to those leaders in the West Aurora School District and community who personify commitment, courage, excellence, and integrity.
West Aurora Challenge Coin “was meant to instill pride, honor a person for a special achievement, or acknowledge outstanding performance over time. It is a symbol of respect.” said Superintendent Dr. Jeff Craig.
Sandra (Bauer) Lay
- 33 years of dedication to SD129, having served as a:
- Special Education Resource Teacher
- Learning Center Director
- Guidance Counselor
- Dean of Students
- Principal (17 years)
- Active supporter of West Aurora School District:
- Established the John W. Bauer Scholarship
- Organizes luncheon for Goodwin Retirees
Ernest "Ernie" Poochigian
- 34 years of dedication to SD129, having served as a(n):
- Algebra Teacher
- Guidance Counselor
- Dean of Students
- Assistant Principal
- Football and Basketball Official
- Community Involvement:
- Adjunct Professor at Aurora University
- Westminster Presbyterian Church
- Aurora Golden "K" Kiwanis Club
- Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry
- 3 years of dedication to SD129, having served as a:
- Social Studies Teacher
- Department Chairman
- Wrestling and Football Coach
- West Aurora High School
- West Aurora High School, North Campus
- Wrestling Coaching Career:
- 396 dual meet wins
- 47 state qualifiers, 20 individual finalists, 5 state champions
- Numerous wrestling honors at the state and national level
CHIEF KRISTEN ZIMAN
High School Diploma
West Aurora High School
Waubonsee Community College
Second Master’s Degree
in progress, Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California
- 1991 started as a Police Cadet at the Aurora Police Department
- 1994 joined the Aurora Police force
- 2003 promoted to sergeant
- 2008 promoted to lieutenant
- 2010 promoted to commander
- 2016 named the first female Police Chief in the history of Aurora
MR. NEAL ORMOND III
1964 Standard Oil Company
- Plant Personnel Manager
- Organization Planning Consultant
- Senior Employee Relations Consultant
1974 Quaker Oats Company
- Corporate Director, Organization Development
- Vice President, Personnel
1979 to 1995 W.W. Grainger, Inc
- Corporate Officer
- Vice President, Human Resources
- Radio, Television and Internet; Sportscaster
- Aurora Youth League and Grade School; Volunteer Coach
- Blackhawk Sports Boosters Club;
- West Aurora High School and Aurora University; Volunteer Coach
- Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley; Board Member
- School District #129 Board of Education; Member and Past President
- AuroraFest/Aurora Festival Association; Sports Coordinator
RICHARD "DICK" EBELING
- A forty-year veteran of the science teaching staff at West Aurora High School.
- "The most influential teacher" by a large number of West Aurora Hall of Honor recipients.
- His philosophy of "set your goals higher than you think you can achieve" served him and his students through his forty years of teaching.
- He pushed his students hard and didn’t let his students quit, ever.
- Received his degree from Coe College, where he co-captained the baseball and basketball teams
- Began teaching at West Aurora in 1962
- Served as head varsity coach from 1976 until 2015, winning 805 games and losing just 313, making him the 5th-winningest basketball coach in Illinois history
- Received Coach of the Year and other local, regional, and state honors
- Ranks as one of the most successful and legendary high school basketball coaches in Illinois history
- Received degrees from the U of W at LaCrosse and the U of I at Champaign-Urbana
- Taught at Frank Hall Elementary School from 1960 to 1970
- Served as Principal of Nancy Hill Elementary School from 1971 to 1981 and Frank Hall Elementary School from 1981 until his retirement in 1994
- Served on the West Aurora School District 129 Board of Education, Aurora Area Salvation Army Advisory Board, and Aurora Evening Lion’s Club
- Received her degree from the U of W at LaCrosse
- Taught second grade at Freeman Elementary School from 1962-1965 and later taught at Washington Middle School, as well as Nicholson, Schneider and Smith Elementary Schools from 1976-2000
- Received West Aurora School District’s Golden Apple Award
- Served as a member of the board of directors of Mutual Ground
- Graduated from Aurora University as one of the most accomplished female athletes in school history in softball, basketball, and volleyball
- Served as head softball coach at West from 1986-1995 and 1997-2007, as well as assistant varsity coach in the very successful West Aurora girls’ basketball program from 1983-2000
- Ranks as one of the 15 winningest coaches in Illinois state history
- Served as department chair for the Physical Education, Health and Drivers Education departments at West Aurora High School, retiring in 2015
- Voted as Class AA Coach of the Year (2006) and into the AU and West Aurora Hall of Fames
- Graduated from Aurora University, where he was a basketball standout
- Served in West Aurora from 1969-2001, retiring from Hall Elementary School where he taught 5th grade
- Became West Aurora High School’s head girls' basketball coach in 1980 and continued for 19 seasons
- Coached the 1990 squad to a 2nd place finish in the IHSA Class AA State Tournament and in 2000 to the Elite Eight
- Has kept the scorebook for West Aurora girls' games for nearly 2 decades
- Is in the IBCA Hall of Fame, the AU Athletic Hall of Fame, and the West Aurora Hall of Fame