RANTOUL — Despite a change in leadership, a change in the way things are run at the Rantoul City Schools is not likely.
Dr. Scott Woods, who is currently the J.W. Eater principal, says that when he takes over as superintendent Jan. 1, 2022, he intends to run things like his predecessor, Michelle Ramage.
“I don’t believe there is anything out there that needs drastically changed as they stand right now,” Woods said.
Woods was announced as Ramage’s successor Thursday.
Ramage, who took over as interim superintendent in 2011 while also serving as Thomasboro Grade School superintendent and got the RCS job on a full-time basis in 2013, will stay on with RCS through Dec. 31 2022, to help with the transition.
Ramage said this transition plan is going to play out over a lengthy period of time for a reason.
“It is a long transition plan intentionally so we can continue the great work we have been doing,” Ramage said. “The ultimate goal is to make this transition as smooth as possible.”
Despite there being a shift in power, next year will be almost the same as this year.
“Next school year is the same as this year except Heather Jacobs will become associate principal,” Ramage said. “The intent of that is to prepare her to take over as J.W. Eater principal.”
Jacobs will take over as principal at Eater at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.
Ramage said the plan to retire at the end of 2022 has been the goal for quite some time.
“I’ve know for a while that I would retire when I was eligible because my husband (Parkland College President Tom Ramage) has nearly the same retirement date, spring 2022. We thought it would be great to go out together.”
Woods said he knew being a superintendent during his career was an option for the future, but it was not always a sure thing.
“I did go back to college to get the appropriate certification, and I was interested in it, but I wouldn’t say it has always been my goal,” Woods said.
Woods has been principal at Eater for two years and said he has enjoyed his time at the school.
“This is my second year at Eater, and for me coming here was a great opportunity to come to a smaller school,” Woods said. “All the schools I was at before were bigger than Eater.”
Being principal is not the only thing Woods has enjoyed while working as Eater’s head man.
“I became the district bilingual director, which was new for me, but I really enjoyed it,” Woods said.
Woods said the transition plan will help him with the things he needs to learn before assuming full duties.
“It is very unusual that an incoming superintendent gets to work under someone like Michelle that has experience and has done things that I have not had to do, and it is awesome to get that opportunity,” Woods said.
Ramage said in her nine years she feels there have been many necessary changes made.
“We have accomplished so much, and I am very proud of that,” Ramage said. “For example, we have expanded our bilingual programming, and what has been built in a short period of time is impressive. It took the work of Dr. Woods and the staff to be where we are, and we have even more improvements in line.”
Ramage also said the schools are in much better shape now.
“Our district secured a $10 million bond for improvements of our facilities. We were able to bring our buildings up to date as well as provide great spaces for our students, such as the Innovation Center, to expand their learning experiences. Our students need to feel proud of their school facilities,” Ramage said.
A native of Moline, Woods came to RCS with 20 years of experience in education. Prior to coming to Eater, Woods led Urbana Middle School for eight years, reorienting the school to the middle school concept through incorporating true advisory programming, strengthening the team concept and addressing issues of racial inequities through implementation of restorative practices.
This marks Ramage’s 31st year in education. She taught special education for five years at Danville High School and held administrative posts in Danville for several years before becoming Thomasboro Grade School superintendent in 2005.