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Veteran educator Dan Palombit named new Clay principal

Dan Palombit brings a wealth of educational experience into his new role as principal of Clay Academy where he is excited to join staff who share the philosophy that every student can learn.

“I am excited to get to know the staff, students, and families at Clay Academy. These past few years have been anything but normal for all of us and I am excited to work with Clay’s outstanding staff as we welcome students for another great year and provide a welcoming, safe, and nurturing school environment,” Palombit said.

“How each student best accesses learning and realizes success differs. Essentially, one size does not fit all. That’s my fundamental approach to education, teaching, and learning. In order for a student to have success, they must feel safe, respected, and understood,” Palombit said.

Palombit earned his Doctorate in Education in 2019 from American College of Education in Indianapolis, two master’s degrees in educational leadership and secondary and special education. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University.

Over his nearly 20 years in education, Palombit has held many roles as a teacher and administrator at the high school and middle school levels. He’s taught subjects including business, media technology, and special education.

He also served as dean of students at Jacobs High School and associate principal of operations at Dundee-Crown High School among other administrative roles including District 300 director of student services.

Palombit replaces Dawn Cook, the longtime principal of the therapeutic day school, who retired this summer. He said he’s excited about building and advancing on the amazing work that’s being done at Clay,

“I look forward to the many celebrations at Clay Academy, especially when we have school-wide celebrations for students who are mainstreaming or returning to their base schools. When students celebrate each other’s accomplishments, they are all building a sense of community and pride and realizing success is happening all around Clay Academy.”

Palombit said he will always have the student’s best interests in the forefront of his decisions and interactions and expects a strong line of communication between school and home.

The lifelong McHenry County resident is married with three children residing outside of Crystal Lake. In addition to being an educator, he has worked in the radio and broadcasting field for almost 20 years.