New Leaders in Place at Catholic Schools in Diocese
August 10, 2017

Steven Baldwin, Superintendent, Marian Central Catholic High School, Woodstock

Steven Baldwin is the new superintendent of Marian Central Catholic High School.

He comes to Marian after serving as the president and CEO of Guerin College Preparatory High School since August of 2012 and as an adjunct faculty member of Robert Morris University in Chicago since 2008.

He was chief strategy and development officer at OMNI Youth Services in Buffalo Grove from 2006-2012; served as senior director of major gifts and director of development for Resurrection Health Care in Chicago from 2005-2006; and was chief development officer at Joliet Catholic Academy from 2002-2005. Prior to that, Baldwin worked in global marketing and communication at Panduit Corporation in Tinley Park.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics with a minor in communication and English from Loras College in Dubuque. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from North Central College in Naperville.

He and his wife, Natasha, have two children, and a third on the way.

“I would like to thank everyone once again for the warm welcome and kind words as I join the Marian family!” Baldwin says. “The more folks I meet, the more I see why Marian is as respected as it is as a top tier Catholic high school in our state.

“Over the next few months, I look forward to meeting with (people who) will assist me in gaining certain perspective and institutional knowledge to best prepare me for the years ahead. It will be us working together as one cohesive team that will best position us to continue the great work here at Marian.”

Lisa Brown, Principal, St. Patrick School, St. Charles

Lisa Brown, new principal at St. Patrick School in St. Charles, is a native of Chicago’s Lincoln Square area. She attended Alvernia Catholic High School and holds a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education and early childhood education from Northeastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in educational school leadership from Olivet Nazarene University.

She is a member of the National Catholic Educational Association and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Brown has worked in education since 1985, beginning as a third grade teacher at Transfiguration of our Lord School in Chicago. She then worked as a substitute teacher in Community Unit School District 303 in St. Charles for a few years when her children were young.

She returned to full time teaching at St. Rita of Cascia School in Aurora, and then moved to St. Joan of Arc School in Lisle, where she was asked to return to school to become a principal.

In 2012, after eight years of teaching at St. Joan of Arc, Brown became its assistant principal. From 2014-2017, she was principal at St. Michael School in Wheaton.

She was a member of the Joliet Diocese Curriculum Advisory Board and worked as an AdvancEd team leader, assisting diocesan schools with the national accreditation process.

For the past five years, she has been a facilitator for standards based grading and professional learning communities, providing professional development to teachers.

She has lived in St. Charles for many years with her four children, John, Kate, Meagan, and Michael, and three golden retrievers. They have been parishioners of St. John Neumann for 27 years, and she is happy “to finally come home to St. Charles.”

Colleen Cannon, Principal, St. Catherine of Siena School, West Dundee

Colleen Cannon is the new principal at St. Catherine of Siena School.

She is beginning her 22nd year as an elementary school principal, after teaching for nine years in junior high.

She comes from a family of teachers. She is one of seven siblings, six of whom are educators. Many of her nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews live in the Rockford Diocese and they are an important reason she is now working in this diocese.

“I am looking forward to being a part of the St. Catherine of Siena community,” Cannon says. “I enjoyed meeting many families at the parish picnic. I look forward to working with the faculty and families to maintain academic excellence and build on (the school’s) success for the future.”

Maureen Jackson, Principal, St. Charles Borromeo School, Hampshire

Maureen Jackson is the new principal at St. Charles Borromeo School in Hampshire.

Jackson has a master’s degree in education leadership and administration from Benedictine University in Lisle and earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Trinity International University in Deerfield.

She is not new to the diocese, coming to Hampshire after serving since 2012 as principal at St. John the Baptist School in Johnsburg.

She is also familiar with St. Charles Borromeo School, having taught first grade there from 2005-2012. Prior to that she was a substitute teacher for schools in Dundee, Hampshire and Algonquin after being a stay-at-home parent for four years.

Sonja Keane, Principal, St. Thomas More School, Elgin

Sonja Keane is the new principal of St. Thomas More School in Elgin.

She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Loyola University. She earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and an education specialist degree in administration and supervision from National Louis University.

Keane taught in a private school for the first few years of her career and then taught for five years for the Chicago public schools. In 1999, she began teaching at SS. Peter and Paul School in Cary, where she served until this past spring when she was hired to be the principal at St. Thomas More.

She is married and has three children.

“This is my first year as a principal, and I feel blessed to be at St. Thomas More,” she says. “It is a wonderful school and parish that has welcomed me with open arms. I am looking forward to meeting all the school families and for an exciting school year full of faith, community and learning.”

Jeremy Keesee, Principal, Freeport Aquin Elementary

Jeremy Keesee is the new principal at Freeport Aquin Catholic Elementary, serving students in prekindergarten through sixth grade. He  comes to the position after working two years as the assistant principal and middle school athletic director at Byron Middle School, Byron.

Prior to that position, he was dean of students at Marquette Academy Grade School in Ottawa. He served as principal and athletic director from 2010 to 2013 at Odell Grade School District 435, in Odell after teaching math and science there from 2001-2010. He was a teacher in Ransom from 1999-2001.

Keesee holds a master of science degree in educational leadership with general administrative Type 75 certification from Eastern Illinois University. His bachelor’s degree from Aurora University is in elementary education and math.

He has coached girls and boys in basketball, baseball, volleyball, and math. He is a member of the Illinois Principals Association and Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

He is married with two sons, one a freshman at Rock Valley Community College in Rockford and the other in third grade.

“I am super excited to be part of the Aquin family,” Keesee says, adding he looks forward “to assisting Superintendent Rosemarie Brubaker and the Aquin staff in implementing the concept of developing a ‘growth mindset’ throughout the Aquin district. ‘Growth mindset’ is the belief that with practice, perseverance, and effort, people have limitless potential to learn and grow.”

Renee Payne, Principal, St. James and St. Bernadette schools, Rockford

Renee Payne is the principal of St. Bernadette School and St. James School in Rockford.

From 2008 until this year, she was an elementary school principal at St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School in Lemont.

From 2006-2008, Payne was a teacher at Durken Park Elementary School in Chicago, of grades 5 and 6 in all content areas. From 1996-2006, she was the principal at St. Cajetan School in Chicago after serving there as assistant principal for three years. She taught various grades from 1981-1993.

Payne’s master’s degree in educational administration is from Governors State University in University Park. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

Chris Rozanski, Principal, Boylan Central Catholic High School, Rockford

Chris Rozanski is the new principal at Boylan  Central Catholic High School, but he is not new to the school. He was assistant principal of academic affairs at Boylan for the 2013-14 school year and was a science teacher there from 2000-2013.

He was involved in coaching in basketball, baseball and football and was assistant athletic director at Boylan.

Rozanski’s education includes a bachelor’s degree from North Central College in Naperville and an master of arts degree in education from National-Louis University. He holds an Illinois professional educator license, and is a member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and the Illinois Athletic Directors Association.

He most recently worked as athletic director at Huntley High School, beginning in July 2014, overseeing 25 varsity programs at 68 levels.

His wife, Patricia, has taught at Boylan for 20 years and is the current chair of the English Department there. They have two daughters who attend Holy Family School, Sophia, 12, and Evelyn, 9.

“What I’m excited about this year,” he says, “is one, communicating to our students and families our commitment to the Catholic Faith; twio, maintaining our high academic standards while staying open-minded about other educational best practices; and three, encouraging our students to stay involved in all the successful extracurricular programs Boylan has to offer.”

Vincent Sossong, Principal, St. Mary School, Woodstock

Vincent Sossong is joining the St. Mary School community its new school principal.

He obtained a bacherlor of arts degree in secondary education, with a focus in history, from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a master of arts degree in school leadership from Concordia University.

He comes to St. Mary School with teaching experiences at the McHenry Community High Schools, where he taught a variety of social science courses, and at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Crystal Lake, where he was a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher and director of the school’s after care program.

For the past three years he was the assistant principal of SS. Peter and Paul School in Cary.

Sossong lives in Richmond with his family and in-laws, and they are active members of St. Patrick Parish in McHenry. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and a Cub Scout den leader. He and his wife have four children who all attend Montini School, Taso in fifth grade, Vinny in second grade, Philomena in kindergartn, and Yanni in his first year of preschool.

“My family brings me so much joy,” Sossong says, “and I am honored that you have invited me to be a part of the St. Mary, Woodstock, family.”

Julie Stark, Principal, St. John the Baptist School, Johnsburg

Julie Stark is the new principal at St. John the Baptist School in Johnsburg.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Concordia College.

She began her career in the Rockford Diocese, teaching seventh- and eighth-graders at St. Joseph School in Harvard for seven years. She then served as assistant principal at Montini School in McHenry. She will continue in that position along with serving as principal at St. John the Baptist School.

She has been married for 10 years to her husband, Kevin, and the couple has four children: Mady, 8; Chase, 6; Aedan, 3; and Gianna, 1. The family lives in Johnsburg.

“I look forward to being a part of this transition between Montini and St. John (the Baptist) and to help shape the future of how Catholic education looks in the area,” she says.