Second time’s a charm for SD 103
Hammond educator to take reins as superintendent
By Steve Metsch
Kristopher Rivera, the newly hired superintendent of Lyons
School District 103, has spent his entire career working in the larger Hammond,
Ind., school district.
Lyons, however, is going to be a good fit, he said.
The school board obviously agrees, voting 5-1 to approve the
hiring of Kristopher Rivera during a special meeting held on Feb. 5.
The lone “no” vote cast by Jorge Torres was not a reflection
of his thoughts about Rivera, Torres said, but rather a comment on the hiring
After the meeting, Torres was the first board member to leap
up and shake Rivera’s hand, wishing him the best of luck. Torres said he voted
“no” because of negative comments directed at Torres by acting Supt. Patrick
Patt at a previous meeting.
“I like you a lot,” Torres told Rivera.
Focusing on the immediate future, Rivera, 43, will be a
frequent flier at board meetings, even though his official first day on the job
is not until July 1. He wants to immerse himself in the district, and learn all
he can in order to have a smoother transition.
Rivera resides in Hobart, Ind., with his wife and their five
He is assistant superintendent for human resources in
Hammond, which has a diverse student population. His entire career has been
spent working in Hammond.
“Hammond is diverse and high poverty. Coming to Lyons, a
high Hispanic population, diverse, and they have that economic dynamic I’m
familiar with,” Rivers said.
He was hired just 12 day after his first interview. On Feb.
5, before the meeting in Lyons, some board members visited the Hammond school
district to learn more about Rivera. They were impressed with what they heard,
board president Marge Hubacek said.
“They didn’t want him to leave Hammond,” she said.
He’s been in his current position for six years, was a
school principal before that for three years at Scott Middle School. Prior to
that he was assistant principal at Scott for four years. He also taught in the
district before joining the administration.
Leaving is “bittersweet but I felt ready for the next step.
It all happened really quick. During the second interview (on Jan. 29), I
locked in when I did the tours of the buildings, met some parents, interacted with
the students. That’s when it felt (like) home.”
He’s not concerned about joining the politically charged
school district in which the entire makeup of the board may change in the April
“It sounds like they are looking for someone to come in and
lead them. I work with a board now that has differences of opinions. A lot of
that comes down to communication.”
The politics on the board “needs to be dealt with” adding
“my leadership style will squelch some of that.”
“Once a vote is taken, we’ve got to get behind it. I’ve read
articles. I’ve done my homework. One thing we have to is stand together. It
does no good to disagree and fight in public. We can’t do that,” he said.
He was surprised to learn he was the board’s second choice
after the first choice had turned down the job].
“I don’t worry about things I can’t control. It doesn’t hurt
my feelings. I know who I am and what I want to do.”
He said he has an “inclusive” management style. “Strong
communication is important as well as including individuals in the
Hubacek and other board members expressed confidence that
Rivera will do a good job.
Robert Madonia, the other current acting superintendent
discussed the detailed and lengthy interview process which he said gave the
board a better insight into Rivera’s leadership abilities. Hammond school
officials, he said, were impressed by the attention to detail.
Rivera gets a three-year contract. He will be paid $155,000
for his first year.
“I’m very excited. I can assure you I’m going to work hard,
going to work with you. This is the type of community I want to work for and
work with,” Rivera said after the board voted.
Hubacek called Rivera “wonderful.”
“First of all, he wants to be here. He’s committed to the
district. We spent the whole morning there meeting with different people
You could tell by their body language, how they talked about
him, we heard ‘please don’t take him from us’ and ‘problem solver,’ which is
what our district needs,” Hubacek said.
Rivera is “fully aware of all the commotion and not put off
by that,” Hubacek added.
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