Dr. Genevra Walters is deeply committed to creating an educational system that provides equal opportunities for every child to become a valued and contributing citizen in a rapidly changing global society. With a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a doctoral program in teacher education and research from Illinois State University, Dr. Walters has a wealth of experience in the field of education.
Dr. Walters began her career as a School Social Worker in Kankakee School District 111. She later became an Assistant Principal at Kankakee High School and served as principal at Mark Twain Elementary School, both within the same district. In 2001, Dr. Walters became the Human Resources Director at SPEED Special Education School District #802, and in January 2008, she was appointed as Superintendent at SPEED.
Dr. Walters has presented on a range of educational topics at various local, state, national, and international conferences. In June 2004, she had the honor of presenting at the China-US Conference on Educating Students with Special Needs in Beijing, China. Her presentation, “Building Collaborative Relationships with Families,” was well-received. Dr. Walters is also the co-author of the book, “What Works for Special Education and At-Risk Learners: A Framework for General Education Teachers and Administrators,” which provides a comprehensive framework and initiatives that can be used to improve the quality of education for all students, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.
Dr. Walters returned to Kankakee School District 111 as the new Superintendent in 2014. She has been instrumental in increasing revenue for the district through competitive grants and significant budget cuts. Despite the initial financial crisis within the district, Dr. Walters was able to accomplish the following as the superintendent of Kankakee School District 111:
• Led a significant renovation of Kankakee High School, which included the creation of learning hubs for flexible learning opportunities using design principles developed at Harvard’s LEFT (Learning Environments for Tomorrow) Conference: Community, History, Hope and Wonder. This project was funded by the Quality School Construction Bond worth $29,000,000.
• Worked in partnership with Kankakee County States Attorney’s Office and developed the Youth Empowerment Program. It was partially funded by a grant of $2,700,000 from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), STOP Grant with the Kankakee States Attorney’s Office ($250,000), Community Partnership Grant ($650,000), Freedom Schools grant ($300,000) and ARPA funds from the City of Kankakee ($300,000).
• Created the Kankakee School District k-12 College/Career Development in Partnership with Defined Learning and implemented it successfully.
• Led the implementation of Competency-Based Education (CBE) at Kankakee High School. The CBE model uses completion of competencies in order to gain high school credits. In response to local employers, the CBE model also includes Habits of Success (work skills).
• Developed a comprehensive response to the pandemic that included remote, blended, and traditional educational options for families. Additionally, provided a school-on-wheels service for material and food delivery, an alternative transportation system for remote/blended students, and a food truck for meal deliveries.
• Created a system of analyzing (through a task-analysis) the components of school to redesign education during the pandemic. Redefined how these essential components of schooling occur and are monitored during the pandemic. The components include attendance, work completion, instruction, interventions, social time, and quality of work/grades.
• Implemented the Illinois Jobs for American Graduates and Junior Army ROTC programs at KHS.
Dr. Walters will end her tenure in Kankakee by completing two final capitol projects: a brand new Community Center and Transition Center. The transition site, Kankakee Community Independent Living & Development Center, will serve adult students (ages 18-21) with disabilities as well as provide space for partnerships with agencies in the community that serve older adults with disabilities. These two projects will be the epitome of the first design principle developed in Harvard’s Learning Environments for the Future: COMMUNITY.
Past AASA Illinois Superintendent of the Year Winners:
2023 Illinois Superintendent of the Year: PJ Caposey
2022 Illinois Superintendent of the Year: Steve Webb
2021 Illinois Superintendent of the Year: Donna Leak
About the Award:
The Superintendent of the Year program, sponsored by First Student and AASA, pays tribute to the talent and vision of the men and women who lead the nation’s public schools.
State-level winners are selected on the following criteria:
- Leadership for Learning
- Community Involvement