Retiring JTHS District Superintendent McCarthy leaving behind a legacy of community leadership
Joliet Township High School (JTHS) District 204 Superintendent Cheryl McCarthy has enjoyed the personal interactions she has had for more than three decades working for the district.
“Our students continue to amaze me every day,” McCarthy told Will County Gazette. “We have the most innovative and hardworking staff that any community could ask for. I have always had the pleasure of working with committed parents and guardians who want the best for their students’ futures.”
McCarthy started working for the district as a math teacher at Joliet West High School in 1986. She went on to hold numerous other roles including division chair of the math and sciences department, assistant principal and principal of Joliet West, and assistant superintendent for educational services. She became the first female superintendent of JTHS in 2011.
“I love working at Joliet Township High School and would not have wanted to work anywhere else,” McCarthy said. “With all my roles and responsibilities, I have to say I have favorite things about each one. However, it is the people, especially the students, that drive my passion.”
After a 33-year career with JTHS, McCarthy will be retiring at the end of the school year. Her last day will be June 27.
“As I transition into retirement, my goal is to make sure the district is in a great place and ready for the future so the transition for a new leader is smooth and seamless,” she said. “It is my job to ensure that we implement our strategic plan and accomplish the goals that were established by the strategic committee.”
The district has experienced many accomplishments under McCarthy’s leadership. This has included providing netbook computers to all students, pairing students with mentors for guidance regarding college and career preparation, and JTHS being named the 2017 College Board Advanced Placement District of the Year.
Not only has McCarthy been a leader for the school district, but she has also been a leader in the greater community. She serves as president of Rotary Club of Joliet and is a member of the Chamber Education Committee, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Joliet Region Interfaith Education Council, Leading Educational Alignment and Planning, Leaning Forward, National Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Three Rivers Education for Employment Council, Three Rivers Education Partnership, and United Way of Will County Education Division.
“I believe in the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” McCarthy said. “We all must work together for the betterment of our community. In addition, our students serve as my inspiration. They are always willing to volunteer their time and talents to help out our school and community organizations. I really do take my lead from them.”
McCarthy is a lifelong resident of Will County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of St Francis, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Governors State University, and doctoral degree in administrative leadership from Aurora University.
“I did not graduate high school thinking I would be a teacher,” McCarthy said. “I was the assistant manager for Wendy’s and I found myself tutoring and assisting the employees with their school work any spare moment that we had – they were not much younger than I was. I realized that this brought me great joy.”
When she’s not working or volunteering, McCarthy loves kayaking and spending time with her family, which includes her 7-year-old granddaughter and 5-year-old grandson.
“Seeing the world through their eyes reaffirms to me that spending the last 33 years in education was the best opportunity for me,” McCarthy said.