Peoria Chamber members and School District 150 employees attended a welcome reception for Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat this week. The theme of the event was a cultural shift in the way District 150 relates to the wider community.
Kherat was greeted at the Chamber offices like a celebrity. She shook hands with every person in the room, and cracked a few jokes when she took the podium.
Jim Lynch is the Executive Director of the CEO Council. He says her approach is a paradigm shift:
“Since you’ve been on board, we’re hearing words like collaboration, relationship building. And that’s what we’ve been passionate, and dying to hear,” Lynch said.
Kherat already traveled with several Chamber members to Rockford, where they looked at programs that give students workplace experience and credit for careers in manufacturing. She says she’s open to developing similar projects and partnerships in Peoria.
“I would like us to work together more, so that we can have a robust economy in our city, and we can do it, and let’s begin,” Kherat said.
Kherat has been on the job about two months but spent more than a decade working the district as a school principal. Throughout that time Kherat has been a noted team player and builder.
Chamber President Jeff Griffin says Kherat's openness to working with businesses comes at an important time for Peoria's developing downtown community.
“When we’re recruiting people here, we want to make sure we have a solid education system," Griffin said. "And Doctor Kherat has started with great energy, and our business community is fully behind her.”
Griffin says he thinks chamber members can help the District with its ailing budget with local support. He says the area businesses also stand to benefit from Kherat’s administration with the goal of a more prepared workforce.