The Proviso Township District 209 Board of Education approved the hiring of Nia Abdullah as principal at Proviso West High School at its June 13 regular meeting. Abdullah will replace the school’s outgoing principal, Oscar Hawthorne, beginning June 19. Her starting salary is $156,960. 

Abdullah is currently principal of Bowen High School, a four-year public school in the Chicago Public Schools system. Abdullah is a 1998 graduate of Howard, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also has a Doctor of Education degree in Urban Education Leadership from the University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Education. 

Abdullah has been teaching for 11 years. She started out as a math teacher at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, where she worked from 2006 until 2010. During that period, she was promoted to mathematics department chair. In 2010, she was hired as a principal at John Hay Community Academy, where she worked for a year before becoming principal of Bowen.  

According to a profile by UIC’s Center for Urban Education Leadership, Abdullah was featured in a 2014 symposium at the University of Chicago titled, “Black Young Men in America: Rising above Social and Racial Prejudice, Trauma, and Educational Disparities.”

The UEL profile notes that Abdullah talked about the “challenges she faces at Bowen,” where she crafted “a warm and inviting environment for African American males geared to push for excellence both academically and behaviorally.”

“We have to accept them as they are and be able to hold them accountable as well at the same time,” Abdullah said. “We need to know exactly what they need academically but support them regardless of how they come to us.”

Abdullah was listed as a “turnaround principal” on a June 2017 personnel report.

District 209 did not return a request for comment by press time. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com