MENDOTA – The Mendota Township High School Board of Education announced on June 16 that it had approved a five-year contract extension with Principal Denise Aughenbaugh. As part of the contract, when current MHS superintendent Jeff Prusator retires at the conclusion of the 2022-23 school year, Aughenbaugh will take over that position. She will continue to serve as high school principal through the 2022-23 school year and assume her new role as superintendent on July 1, 2023.
Prusator has served as MHS superintendent for the past 16 years and has been an administrator in the district for the last 25 years.
Board President Jim Lauer said the board of education has been having internal discussions about how to proceed after the retirement of Prusator in 2023. “We feel very fortunate to have had the continuity of the same superintendent and principal for the past 16 years. We feel this stability has been beneficial to our district and community,” he said. “We have had the opportunity to work with Mrs. Aughenbaugh for the past 16 years and are confident that she will be an exceptional leader for our district. We have been impressed with her leadership skills, communication skills, and decision making. We are confident that she will continue to lead our district in a positive direction and make decisions that are in the best interest of our students and community.”
Lauer noted that while serving as the MHS principal, Aughenbaugh continued her education, earning her education specialist degree and currently finishing her doctorate. “As a school board, we understand that Mrs. Aughenbaugh is ready for her next professional challenge of being a superintendent. We felt it was appropriate and in the best interest of our community to make that commitment now,” he said. “The school board feels that the administrative continuity that we have had for the past 16 years has been beneficial and we wish for that to continue. We feel we have the best candidate and she happens to currently be our principal. We don’t want to risk losing her to another district.”
Aughenbaugh has had a 24-year career in public education, including six years as a business teacher and assistant principal at Ottawa High School and 16 years as principal at Mendota High School. She has also served as the district’s Bilingual and Curriculum Director. Aughenbaugh is currently completing her Ed.D. in Educational Administration from Aurora University. She received her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s in Administration from Illinois State University and received her Educational Specialist degree from Northern Illinois University.
Speaking during the June 16 board of education meeting, Aughenbaugh thanked the board members and Prusator for renewing her contract and entrusting her with the responsibility of the next superintendent. “I am honored and humbled to accept this position,” she said. “Mendota is a very special place, and it is a privilege to accept this responsibility.”