Oct 3, 2023
District provides strong leaders in new roles
The Community Consolidated School District 21 welcomes several new leaders to the 2022-2023 school
After serving successfully as an assistant principal at Cooper Middle School, Catherine Joy will now use
her skills and talents to oversee Frost Elementary School as the new principal. Joy has also served as
a coordinator, coach and teacher in the district and is someone who distinguishes herself as a thoughtful,
caring and collaborative educator. Her experiences in multiple schools in the district serve her well as she
takes on this leadership role at Frost. Joy was very well received by the Frost interview panel of staff and
Annette McBride, who spent the last year successfully serving as the assistant principal at Kilmer
Elementary School will now be its new principal. Prior to that, McBride was an assistant principal of
student services in Round Lake. She also was a modern language Spanish teacher for eight years in
Glencoe School District 35. McBride distinguishes herself with a friendly, thoughtful approach and
someone who was well received by the Kilmer interview panel of staff and parents. Her experiences in the
classroom and as the assistant principal at Kilmer is a tremendous asset in this new role. Her
commitment to ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment for all students is evident.
Nicole Bellini will serve as the new principal at Riley Elementary School. For the last five years, she
worked as the principal at North Shore School District 112 – Highland Park where she successfully
supported students, families and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased to welcome Bellini to the district. Prior to that, Bellini was an assistant
principal for five years in Woodland School District 50. She also taught for 11 years as a 1st grade dual
language teacher and 8th grade ESL teacher. Her experiences in the classroom and as an experienced
administrator will be a tremendous benefit as she takes over as the principal at Riley.
Melissa Mariconda will be the new assistant principal at Riley Elementary School. She served
successfully as a special education teacher at Tarkington. Prior to that, Mariconda served as a special
education and general education teacher in Prospect Heights School District 23. Mariconda distinguishes
herself as a hard-working, reliable, outstanding educator. She understands all students learn differently
and advocates for every student with which she works. She has taken on multiple leadership roles at
Tarkington and has a desire to learn and grow as an administrator. Mariconda was very well received by
the Riley interview panel of staff and parents.
Welcome the new assistant principal, Lauren Wilkie, to London Middle School. Wilkie comes to
District 21 after successfully serving as a teacher and department chair at Eric Solorio Academy in the
Chicago Public School System since 2017. Prior to that, Wilkie was a teacher at CICS Northtown
Academy in Chicago. Wilkie’s experience working with students from a diverse population will be a
tremendous asset to London and CCSD21. She is committed to ensuring a safe and supportive learning
environment for all students.
Jenny Lagunas may be a familiar face to some, but will be in a new role as the assistant principal at
Cooper Middle School. Lagunas comes to Cooper after serving successfully as an instructional coach at
Kilmer and Frost since 2018. Prior to that, Lagunas served as a dual language teacher at Whitman.
Lagunas distinguishes herself as a student-focused educator who understands student strengths and
areas of growth. She has successfully led projects and initiatives at several schools in the district.
As a former music teacher, Cara Giacomin-Ferris distinguishes herself as a supportive and collaborative
educator who believes that schools should be a nurturing learning environment. Giacomin-Ferris is the
new assistant principal at Kilmer Elementary School, after serving successfully as a part-time
assistant principal in Arlington Heights School District 25 and as a music teacher in Barrington School
District 220. Welcome Giacomin-Ferris.
District 21 welcomes back Joanie Murphy to serve as the next assistant principal of Twain
Elementary School. Most recently, Murphy worked as the assistant director of special education in
Crystal Lake District 27. Prior to that, Murphy worked as a school psychologist in District 21 for six years
at Cooper Middle School and most recently at Tarkington Elementary School. She also was a school
psychologist for three years in Skokie/Morton Grove District 69.
Her experiences as a school psychologist in District 21 along with her experiences as an administrator in
D47 will benefit her as she takes on the role of assistant principal at Twain. We are fortunate to welcome
her back to the D21 family.
“We are thrilled to have such incredible talent leading our buildings and look forward to a wonderful
school year,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Connolly.
Congratulations to all and welcome.
To view the staff directory, visit www.ccsd21.org.