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 Superintendent

 

​Robert Willis, Ph. D.


Robert Willis is Interim Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools, the fifth largest school district in Illinois and the largest full-time employer in Winnebago and Boone counties.
 
As the District's new leader, Dr. Willis has placed an emphasis on servant-based leadership and improving student performance.  He comes to the position as a proven leader with more than 40 years experience in education, consulting and organizational management.  The majority of Dr. Willis' career has been spent at the helm of school districts.
 
He began his career teaching Physical Science and Biology and coaching Varsity football in the town where his entire family was raised.  His dad was the high school custodian, and his mom worked for a pharmaceutical company.  Both parents shared a common dream of having their children become the first in their families to attend college.
 
Following that dream, Willis earned a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education from Springfield College in 1963.  Afterward, he pursued a Master's Degree in School Administration from Seton Hall University and another Master's Degree in Physical Education from the University of Minnesota.  He also earned a Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration before being hired as the principal of an inner city elementary school in St. Paul, Minnesota.  He was the first principal ever to be hired from outside the St. Paul system.
 
Later, Dr. Willis led school districts in Minnesota and South Dakota before joining the educational ranks in Illinois.  While serving as superintendent in Rock Island and Des Plaines, he worked to develop a clear vision for those school districts, improving student performance, creating innovative year-round schools and pushing for the use of new technology to advance and improve the learning experience for students and staff.  He also received the Illinois State Board of Education's "Break the Mold" award, a distinction that honors extraordinary innovation and commitment to educational leadership.
 
He expanded his educational reach as a consultant and trainer where he created community visions for several Illinois school districts, helped institutions build parent partnerships to improve student learning in No Child Left Behind schools and taught graduate level courses at National-Louis University and Northern Illinois University.  In 2006, he took his talents to the American Red Cross, serving as Executive Director of a regional chapter that grew to represent more than 500,000 people in the Rock River Valley.
 
In his personal life, Dr. Willis enjoys the outdoors, gardening, reading and a little golf.  He has been married to his wife, Judy, for 48 years; they have three children and five (almost six!) grandchildren.  The family has a strong connection to sports that began with Dr. Willis' parents and continued during his athletic career at Springfield College, his run on the New York Yankees traveling rookie team and his time coaching his children's youth teams.  The family continues to be active and enjoy sports.

Dr. Willis may be contacted by email at dr.robert.willis@rps205.com  or by phone at (815) 966-3101. 

 

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501 7th St., Rockford, IL 61104
815-966-3000