Niles Community Schools hires new elementary principal

Published 11:54 am Thursday, March 3, 2022

NILES — Niles Community Schools has announced that Donna Roark, the district’s current Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Personnel, will become the principal of Howard-Ellis Elementary, effective for the 2022-23 school year. 

Roark replaces Michelle Asmus, who served as the principal at Howard-Ellis Elementary from 2010 to 2021, before being appointed as the principal at Niles High School earlier this year. Melissa Rough, who has served as interim principal since October 2021, will continue her role as assistant principal.

“Donna has served Niles Community Schools’ students, families, teachers and staff as a key member of our administration,” said Dr. Dan Applegate, Superintendent at Niles Community Schools. “Her expertise implementing effective curriculum, empowering our staff and supporting families will serve our Howard-Ellis community well. She is exactly what we look for in our Viking staff, and we are thrilled that she is stepping into this key role within our district.”

Roark has been an educator for more than 20 years, starting her career as an elementary teacher in Illinois. She joined Niles Community Schools in 2013 as the assistant principal at Howard-Ellis Elementary, before transitioning to her current assistant superintendent position in 2016.

“When the opportunity arose to return as the instructional leader at Howard-Ellis Elementary, I knew it was where I needed to be,” said Roark. “Returning to Howard-Ellis will allow me to continue serving Niles Community Schools in a new, yet familiar, way. I look forward to connecting with both current and incoming students and families as we work together to create a solid foundation for their educational journeys.”

During her time as assistant principal at Howard-Ellis Elementary, Roark developed a multi-tiered system of support for students and families, enhanced literacy curriculum and assessment materials, and the A-Z Countdown Celebration. As Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Personnel, she played an active role in implementing districtwide initiatives – such as the Summer Pop-Up Libraries, new teacher orientations, strategic planning and curriculum development – that have supported the academic, social and emotional growth of the school community.

The new Assistant Superintendent will be announced later this spring.