After working 15 years in Flossmoor School District 161, Carol Humm has been appointed the new principal of Heather Hill Elementary School. Humm worked as the district’s curriculum coordinator for the past four years.
Outgoing principal Ashley Holland, who was hired for the role in 2018, resigned to take a job as principal of a school in Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123. Humm said she worked with Holland in the final weeks of the academic year to prepare for the principal role.
“I feel so grateful to have this time right now to be able to talk things through, and make the transition as smooth as possible,” Humm said.
Before her district-wide administrative job as curriculum coordinator, Humm worked as an instructional coach at Heather Hill, helping teachers grow their skills through professional development.
“I’m going to be bringing a lot of coaching experience into the role in terms of focusing on active listening and questioning. Part of what I’ve learned over the years in coaching is how to support teachers through reflective conversation, and how to support teacher agency,” she said.
“Adult learners bring a lot to the table. We’re working with highly trained and intelligent individuals. It’s about trusting in that knowledge and experience, and providing the supports that teachers need.”
Humm started her 20-year education career as a classroom teacher before moving to District 161 and Heather Hill School. She worked as a reading specialist and then became a multi-tiered system of supports coach, a type of specialist that assists with improving student behavior.
While she enjoyed her most recent role as curriculum coordinator, Humm said she is excited to be back at Heather Hill and dedicated to the school where she used to work.
“I miss the energy of a building. I truly enjoy being a part of a building staff and culture, and really working on building those relationships,” Humm said. “I’ve learned so much in the last four years as an administrator. Now I’m very excited to come back to be part of the building, and use all the investment the district has put into me over the last 15 years, to turn it around and serve the community.”
One of her challenges as principal, Humm said, is continuing to face setbacks created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to learning loss, students have experienced a loss of social skills. As a result, she said many schools have ramped up social emotional learning.
“I think we as a population are still working through that trauma,” Humm said. “We have to recognize that, and make sure we’re providing those social emotional supports for everyone, adults included. We need to support everyone through that process.”
In her day-to-day work, Humm said she likes to organize tasks digitally, using checklists and spreadsheets to set goals and make sure she follows up. She stressed an emphasis on clear and consistent communication, and how that practice can build trust and understanding.
Humm said she appreciates how District 161 consistently strives to make progress, challenging itself to grow and improve just as it encourages students to do so.
“I also think our commitment to DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) is critical,” she said. “These are conversations we’ve been having over the last many years, making sure our materials, resources and instructional practices reflect what’s best for all members of our population. That we celebrate one another and grow together. Our commitment to DEI is something that makes us special and is an important part of who we are.”
During her free time, Humm said she’s a “baseball mom,” supporting her son and daughter in the sport and also in their music-based extracurriculars. She lives in the Homewood-Flossmoor area with her family, who love playing cards and board games together, though she said her husband won’t play Scrabble against her because Humm always beats him.
She said she loves being part of the H-F community, which she called “a special place.”
“I absolutely love this community. I’m really proud to be a part of it. I care deeply about the students, staff, parents and community members,” Humm said.
“I’m so honored to be selected as the next instructional leader of Heather Hill. I’m committed to supporting our team. And I’m grateful to the board for giving me the opportunity to serve.”