As Kane County Regional School superintendent since 2012, Patricia Dal Santo said she is fulfilling a natural progression, as she was the agency’s Alternative Programs director doing truancy and dropout prevention for 18 years.
“It was really rewarding,” Dal Santo, 63, said. “I get letters from kids thanking me. That if it had not been for our program, they don’t know where they would be today. They’re now attending colleges and four-year universities.”
Dal Santo was appointed in May 2012 and was elected in November 2012, records show.
For her service and for serving as president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, Ellen Kamps, the office’s communications coordinator, nominated Dal Santo as an Everyday Hero, calling her “an inspiring hero with over 40 years experience in education.”
“For her work, she has been recognized with accolades such as the Network Crystal Star Award of Excellence in Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention,” Kamps wrote in her nomination. “[She] has been serving as the first female ever regional superintendent [in] Kane County.”
Being in charge of the fourth largest regional school office in Illinois is exciting, Dal Santo said.
“The regional office touches every teacher and every student,” she said. “We are the only organization that does that in the county, so we are able to impact every student and every teacher in the county.”
For example, her office inspects all school buildings and issues building permits, Dal Santo said.
“Everyone wants school buildings to be safe,” Dal Santo said. “We inspect and issue building permits at no cost to school districts. If they had to hire someone or pay a municipality, it would be a really great expense for them.”
Her office also does background checks and fingerprinting for county schools, fulfilling its mission of keeping schools safe – both with the physical building and the employees, Dal Santo said.
Being president of the state’s association of regional superintendents is an exercise in coordinating state efforts, especially working with the Illinois State Board of Education on initiatives it wants for the regional school offices, Dal Santo said.
But it’s more than that, she said. The organization is working with several professional school organizations on an Illinois Vision 2020 Initiative.
“This is probably the first time all these organizations came together to work for a positive outcome for education,” Dal Santo said.
“It’s an effort because we always find ourselves playing defense,” Dal Santo said. “This is an effort to put forward a plan for what education should look like in Illinois. Instead of, ‘No, we’re against that. No, we’re against that.’ Instead, it’s, ‘This is what we see, and this is where we need legislation to go.”
Dal Santo said one of the efforts is to have current educators serve on the state board.
“It’s great to have people currently in the field to make decisions on what should happen in education,” Dal Santo said. “We want to be accountable.”
The Dal Santo lowdown
Who she is: Patricia Dal Santo, Kane County regional school superintendent
Town of residence: Wheaton
Family: Married, two children and one grandson
Hobbies: “I’m an adrenalin junkie – I paraglided off a mountain in New Zealand.”
Fun fact: She has a St. Bernard and Pyrenees Mountain dog