Superintendent of Distinction

We are pleased to share the press release below from the Northwest Division of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, announcing the selection of Margo Empen as the Superintendent of Distinction for the 2017-2018 school year.  The Northwest Division represents 41 districts in the northwest part of the state, and Superintendent Empen has been nominated and selected by her peers as this year’s honoree.

Press Release                                 

December 7, 2018

TO:    Regional media outlets and IASA Northwest Division members

FR:    Dr. Mark D. Hansen, IASA Northwest Division


Margo Empen photo

RE:    Margo Empen, Superintendent of Dixon Public Schools, selected as the 2017-18 “Superintendent of Distinction” for the Northwest Division of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).

Members of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) Northwest Division have selected Margo Empen, Superintendent of the Dixon Public Schools, as their Superintendent of Distinction for the 2017-18 school year.  Empen was nominated by her peers and selected based on achievements and personal characteristics aligned with the criteria for the state and national Superintendent of the Year awards. 

Superintendent Empen’s approach is to seek balance between the need for an articulated instructional sequence that builds at each grade level and the need to meet the unique and individual needs of each student.   In 2009, she created the Student Worker Assistance Program (SWAP).  The program was the solution to a problem  for  students  struggling  to  pay  their athletic fees.  High School students can effectively “SWAP” working for the school district to pay their fees.  Since its inception, 1,360 students have benefitted from the SWAP program.

As a district leader, Empen has sought to create and reinstate academic pathways to serve students with a variety of interests and aptititudes.  After 30 years, Dixon High School has reinstated its agriculture program, partnered with Sauk Valley Community College to offer blended learning opportunities, secured a grant for an onsite greenhouse, and reconstituted its food science program.  Looking toward the future, Empen is planning to bring back small engine repair and expand their welding programs to incorporate the agriculture component. 

Empen has worked closely over the years with the Dixon Police Department to implement formal training in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) protocols.  That training was tested on May 16, 2018 when Dixon High School experienced an active shooter.  Staff, students and law enforcement responded as trained.  The incident was thwarted with no fatalities, and procedures, protocols and communications were managed effectively.  Empen, members of her staff and Dixon and Lee County officers have taken on the burden of sharing their experiences through presentations with superintendents and districts throughout the state in hopes that all schools can maintain high levels of safety and security.

Empen is a member of the Dixon Rotary Club, the Dixon Women’s Garden Club, the KSB Hospital Advisory Board, and is Vice-Chair of the Whiteside Area Career Center CEO Advisory Board.  She is also a member of the Dixon Public Schools’ Foundation Board. 

Supe of Distinction

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