Editor’s Note: Below is the full text of a tribute article that many Willard Elementary School teachers wrote in honor of Jerry Succes, who served as Willard’s assistant principal for the past nine years.. To read more about his success, read our profile of him and his career here.
“He is known as the heart and soul of the Willard School.” There’s no better compliment to give a person and that’s how Jerry Succes was viewed during his nine years as Assistant Principal at the Willard School. Jerry Succes will be sorely missed and Willard will never be the same without him.
Jerry grew up in the Evanston/Skokie neighborhood. He, along with his family, attended District 65, Walker, Chute and ETHS schools.
Since then, Jerry has devoted his entire career to District 65, totaling over 30 years of service in various capacities. He has served as cafeteria supervisor, day care assistant, reading specialist, and administrator. Jerry worked on every building in District 65. He spent five years at Walker and two years at Oakton as a reading teacher, two years as co-principal of Haven Summer School, and one year as principal of Kingsley Summer School.
Jerry was the assistant director at Oakton for four years and then went to Willard as assistant director for another nine years. According to Jerry, “Building healthy, trusting relationships is essential for morale and school success.”
He made the decision early on to not just stay in Evanston for a job, but for his career. His wife, also an ETHS graduate, returned to Evanston after college and is currently an educator at Chute. Jerry says, “Evanston is a great place to live, work and raise a family.” Now Jerry watches as his own son attends Chute Middle School.
Jerry’s brother is also a long-time teacher at ETHS and has followed the family tradition of remaining committed to the community. Outside of teaching, Jerry has devoted his time to training and participating in various community events.
Jerry has always had an amazing work ethic. He went above and beyond for everyone he knew.
During the pandemic, Jerry has delivered everything you could possibly imagine for families. This includes hotspots for internet, computers, books, food, furniture and more. Jerry always made things happen. He is a pillar and integral part of the community that makes a daily effort to make not just Willard, but Evanston, the best they can be.
He helped and encouraged educators to participate in conferences, professional development, and classes to improve themselves.
He helped with programs so teachers could watch each other for more support, feedback, and growth. Jerry went the extra mile and personally took the teachers to other schools so they could gain experience from seeing other classrooms.
Whether undercover, recess/lunch support, or teaching assistants are needed, Jerry struggled to ensure Willard had everything he needed to succeed. He can even be seen replacing himself in classrooms, participating in celebrations like the 100th day of school and hanging out with the kids on the playground.
He has even been seen at sporting and football events, cheering for our students. Whenever important questions arose, Jerry was available and immediately followed up with staff, families, and our students.
Jerry is a man loved and respected by the Willard community. He was always there to offer support, guidance and even a joke to make you smile. His compassion and understanding made him an ideal boss.
As a team, we knew that if we needed anything for our classrooms, students, or even our personal lives, we could count on Jerry to help and get it done.
His human and humorous self makes him approachable. Jerry believes in working as one, collaboration, and most importantly, trust. Your leadership and feedback are always appreciated and wanted. No matter what his job at Willard is, he makes you feel valued, respected and welcome. Its curriculum objective states, “Continue in my role as Assistant Principal at the Willard School and utilize my educational and professional experience to create a safe learning environment and set performance goals for students and faculty.”
Jerry Succes is what every manager should strive to be.