Women in Business

Dr. Grenita Lathan, New Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, Gears Up for the School Year

Get to know Dr. Grenita Lathan, incoming superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, and learn more about what excites her about coming to Springfield, her favorite aspects of the role, and what she learned from a turning point in her career.

By Max Havey

Jul 2021

Dr. Grenita Lathan at desk
By Leah StiefermannDr. Grenita Lathan is incoming superintendent of Springfield Public Schools. Purchase Photo

On what excites her about coming to Springfield Public Schools: 

“I've had the opportunity to work in large, medium, and small districts, and after reviewing the district data, achievement data, financial data, and also the strategic plan, I was impressed with the vision that the board has accomplished. I saw that I could be a piece of that puzzle to take the district to the next level.”

On what keeps her up at night: 

“Worrying about if we have met the needs of every child that is entrusted in my care and also the care of my staff. Asking did we do everything we could do to ensure the child is going to be successful when they leave our school district?”

On a turning point in her career: 

“It came when I was an alternative school principal on the southwest side of Chicago. These were students that had been expelled or that their traditional school settings couldn’t accommodate them. And the turning point was that we were able to take students and help restore their lives to get them ready to return back to a traditional setting. Learning that every child deserves a second chance and an opportunity to have their needs met.”

On her favorite part of being a superintendent: 

“I’ve had the wonderful opportunity, through a partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation, to provide a Superintendent’s Scholarship honoring high school seniors who have not only excelled academically, but have overcome something in their personal lives. What gives me pleasure is being able to give back to our students.”

On what she learned from a past stumble: 

“I was a high school teacher during the events that occurred with Rodney King, and I was one of two African-American staff members on a staff of about 125. We were told not to discuss it, and I felt I let my students down because they needed an outlet to discuss what they saw. I don't feel I demonstrated courageous leadership to be there for my students. But that birthed an African-American history club, which was something this high school never had before.”

On advice for her younger self: 

“Enjoy the moment and not rush to get to the next moment or the next event. You know, just enjoy because 30 years goes by so fast.” Some of my friends I started out teaching with have stayed at the same school district, the same place, and are retiring this year!” 

Business Listings: