The Proviso Township High Schools District 209 school board approved the hiring of James L. Henderson as its new superintendent. | Photo provided

Henderson will replace former D209 superintendent Jesse Rodriguez, who left the district for a job as superintendent of Zion-Benton Township High School District 126. Dan Johnson, a veteran D209 administrator, had been serving as interim superintendent until the new permanent superintendent was appointed at a special meeting on July 22.

In a statement released July 24, D209 officials announced the board had chosen Henderson as its newest superintendent. Henderson comes to Proviso from Mississippi where he was superintendent of the Holmes County Consolidated School District.

A native of Lexington, Henderson has nearly 20 years of executive experience in education, D209 officials said. He’s been an English teacher, a middle school principal in the Houston Independent School District and a chief of staff for Normandy School District in St. Louis, officials said.

“The board, with overwhelming support, chose Dr. Henderson,” said D209 Board President Rodney Alexander. “One of the most important jobs of a school board is to hire one employee who is entrusted to run the day-to-day operations. District 209 is moving forward!”

Henderson said he sought out the opportunity to become superintendent in D209 “because of the challenges it presents — academic achievement, high drop-out rate, low graduate rates, discipline concerns, lack of parental engagement, and much more. I have a proven track record for rectifying these challenges in urban children.”

Henderson has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Jackson State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership and supervision from Prairie View A&M University and a doctorate in education from St. John’s University, D209 officials said. He is married and has two daughters.

After hiring executive search firm Ray and Associates to help administer a national search, 45 applicants were whittled down to three finalists, but the board wasn’t satisfied with the candidates and so they decided to restart the search process from scratch in April. Henderson was hired from the second pool of candidates who applied for the position.

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