Working in a bilingual school is nothing new for the new principal of Congress Park Elementary School, Amy Grieve. The 38-year-old has spent the past eight years working at a bilingual school in Ecuador, where she also met her Ecuadorian husband, Esteban, and started a family.
“We are a bilingual family,” Grieve told the Landmark in a phone interview last week. “If you look at Congress Park, we’re living the vision here. We are a bilingual family.
Grieve replaces James Robinette, who led Congress Park School in Brookfield for four years before leaving this summer to take up a position as human resources director at County Club Hills School District 160.
For the past three years, Grieve served as the middle school principal of a large private school in Quito, Ecuador, where instruction was in both English and Spanish.
She actually applied for the principal’s job at Park Junior High School in LaGrange-Brookfield District 102, but that job went to Jerome Green, who had been vice-principal at Julian Middle School in Oak Park.
However, the administrators of District 102 were so impressed with Grieve that they hired her as an assistant principal somewhere in the district, knowing that Robinette was looking for a job, so she would be available if Robinette left Congress Park.
“We anticipated that Dr. Robinette was seeking a position,” District 102 Superintendent Kyle Schumacher said.
When Robinette got a new job in July, Schumacher placed Grieve in the position there without interviewing anyone else or even taking applications.
“We actually interviewed her with Congress Park in mind, if ever a position opened up,” Schumacher said.
Grieve’s annual salary is $109,000 for the 11-month position while Green earns $112,000 at Park Junior High in LaGrange Park.
Grieve, who is the older sister of Ryan Grieve, a social studies teacher at Riverside-Brookfield High School, grew up in Elmhurst.
She received her undergraduate degree from Trinity International University in 2008 and earned a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration from the American College of Education in 2016.
Grieve has long had a passion for experiencing other cultures and wanted to live abroad, so she started her career as an ESL teacher in Seoul, South Korea.
After a year there, she returned to the United States and worked for six months as a special education teacher’s aide at Jackson Middle School in Villa Park. Next, Grieve went to Ecuador and worked for seven months as a third-grade teacher before returning to the United States and working for four years as a charter school teacher in Orlando, Florida.
She returned to Ecuador in 2014 and worked as a seventh grade teacher for a year before becoming an elementary school facilitator for three years. She then worked for a year as a sixth grade language arts and social studies teacher before spending the last three years as the middle school principal.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Grieve, who is fluent in Spanish.
But in the back of her mind, she was still thinking about returning to the United States at some point.
“It’s always been in my plan to bring all of these experiences together and bring them back here to this region,” Grieve said. “I was very drawn to District 102, its mission and vision and the value it places on fairness.”
Grieve is passionate about cross-cultural learning and bridging the gaps between students and cultures. While she enjoyed living and working in Ecuador, she wanted her husband and children to experience life in the United States.
Her bilingual experience fits perfectly with Congress Park School, which is now in its fifth year and offers a bilingual English-Spanish immersion program. According to the latest Illinois report card, 47.5% of Congress Park students are Hispanic, while 36.9% are white and 8.5% are black.
Although she initially interviewed for the position at Park Junior High School, Grieve is happy to have landed at Congress Park.
“I think it’s a perfect fit for me,” Grieve said. “I think it’s a perfect fit for my experience and the skills I’ve learned and for my passion.”