Kimberly Dahlem
Kimberly Dahlem

Employer: Community High School District 155, Crystal Lake, Illinois

Title: Assistant Superintendent for Student Services and Special Education

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

All of us, each and every one, demonstrate a level of excellence that sets us apart from others in our respective fields. Whether it be in public service or the private sector, reaching out to the national level, or focusing on our local communities, we have all excelled at improving the lives of those around us. As for me, I have dedicated my entire professional career to local academic institutions. From the beginning of my career as a special education teacher, counselor, then administrator, I have championed the underprivileged, overlooked, and underserved. While I am proud of the accomplishments of our most talented students, I have always preferred to measure my success by the progress of those marginalized. I involve myself in crucial issues surrounding special education and student services to drive diverse, equitable, and inclusionary practices. If you seek a change agent, you want me in your corner, at your table, or on your team. My actions are sound and strength-based. I share this because NAPSA has been a critical resource for me for over the past decade and the individuals I have met on the national level all share in this passion. It is energizing to have a genuine connection with fellow NAPSA members. I’ve been told that one of my superpowers is laser-focused problem-solving. As the assistant superintendent for student services and special education, I stand in solidarity with my colleagues nationally. We are faced with an unprecedented array of ever-evolving challenges. I give thanks to NAPSA for providing a rich network of colleagues to share in these problem-solving efforts and encourage each other to continue to reach for new levels on behalf of all stakeholders.

What is the greatest benefit of being a NAPSA member?

I am passionate about educational law and believe everyone should have choice and a level playing field. It is an individual’s decision to determine their ceiling…their potential. Time and time again, I push individuals to shatter what they believe is their glass ceiling and to reach for more. Whether it be pandemic planning, ensuring the safety of others, championing healthy mental health, or adapting to facilitate success for those of all abilities, and backgrounds, we are presented with nearly limitless opportunities to implement and shape solutions. NAPSA’s membership has fostered these connections and remains on the cutting edge of legal trends and best practice. They assist in mentoring professionals by always standing in front of them to cheer them on, stand behind them when they need support, and walk alongside them so they never feel alone. NAPSA has played a critical role as new administrators join the field and attend online sessions, local chapters, the national conference, or simply by reading the monthly newsletter for tidbits. NAPSA is an immediate network for professionals to connect and support each other. If you have found yourself here today reading this spotlight, I challenge you to follow your why and encourage others to consider membership to NAPSA.