photo of Dr. Karen Ritter

District 117 is pleased to announce that at the February 16, 2023 regular Board of Education meeting, Dr. Karen Ritter was approved as the new Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, starting on July 1, 2023.

Dr. Ritter will replace David Newberry, who will be retiring on June 30. Mr. Newberry served District 117 for 19 years, including eight years as the Principal of Lakes Community High School and most recently as the Director of Curriculum & Instruction. Mr. Newberry’s leadership has had an exceptional impact on the success of our graduates, and we look forward to honoring his legacy in the coming months.

Dr. Ritter has served for the last four years as the Principal of Niles West High School in Niles Township High School District 219. While in this role, Dr. Ritter's school improvement efforts focused on areas that were impacted by the pandemic, including chronic absenteeism, culture & climate, freshman success, and restorative practices. She led a district-wide implementation of restorative practices with a focus on relationships and community building, which has proven to be especially important during and after the pandemic.

Prior to her arrival at Niles West, she was an Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning at East Leyden High School in Leyden High School District #212. Her accomplishments at Leyden include nearly closing the opportunity and achievement gap in Advanced Placement courses, especially for underrepresented students. Dr. Ritter is a champion for equitable access in education, and was featured in a PBS Newshour segment for shadowing a student for a day.

Previous to Leyden, Dr. Ritter served as an Assistant Principal at Mather High School and as a French teacher at Taft High School, both in Chicago Public Schools. During her teaching career at Taft High School, Dr. Ritter was the recipient of a Fulbright Teacher Exchange Scholarship and taught English to French-speaking students in Dakar, Senegal during the 1998-1999 school year.

Dr. Ritter earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in the Teaching of French from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. While a student there, she studied abroad in Paris, France for a year at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. She earned her Master of Education degree in General Administration from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her Doctorate of Education in Administration and Supervision with Superintendent endorsement from Loyola University Chicago. Most recently, she completed her Chief School Business Official (CSBO) endorsement through Northern Illinois University.

Dr. Ritter currently lives in Chicago with her husband and two high school daughters. She loves gardening, cooking, traveling, reading, and learning about other cultures. She shared that she and her family are enthusiastic about her new role as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction in District 117!