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​Betheny Lyke, Ed.D.

Executive Director

​Kelly Gilbert, Ed.D.

Deputy Director, District Services

Patti Furlano

Associate Director, Instructional Design and Professional Development

Ardella Perry-Osler

Associate Director, District Resources

Lakecia Whimper

Senior Performance Management Officer


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Illinois Center for School Improvement 

Senior Leadership Team


A lifelong educator with 20 years of experience, Illinois CSI executive director Betheny Lyke, Ed.D., has a passion for helping students reach their full potential, a seed planted when she was an underperforming high school student. Seeing she wasn’t receiving the support she needed, Dr. Lyke’s parents transferred her to a school that expected the best from her and she soared, going on to college to earn a math degree, then master’s and doctoral degrees. Dr. Lyke brings that understanding and insight to Illinois CSI, where she’s committed to helping students at struggling schools throughout Illinois experience that transformation without transferring schools. She oversees Illinois CSI’s senior leadership and statewide staff of more than 100 team members, who work with leaders of the state’s lowest-performing urban, rural and suburban school districts identified by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Under Dr. Lyke’s leadership, Illinois CSI works with these district leaders to transform their systems and ultimately driv​e higher student achievement through research-backed best practices. Dr. Lyke is no stranger to the roll-up-the-sleeves hard work of school transformation; she ​understands what works and what doesn’t. She assumed leadership of Thornton Township High School in Harvey a school designated as low-performing in south suburban Chicago. Thornton Township faced widespread discipline problems, decreased economic development and consistently low achievement. Dr. Lyke implemented a variety of turnaround strategies and instituted data-based decision making, dramatically reducing student expulsions (from 34 to 1) and reversing the trend of declining student achievement within a year. Among many new strategies, she initiated formal teacher-administrator collaboration, gave students a voice through meetings with the principals and used data to continually evaluate school programs to determine if they were effective. The philosophy behind these initiatives were brought districtwide as she became the leader of Thornton Township High School District and she now uses them to guide the work of Illinois CSI’s work across the state. Dr. Lyke earned her undergraduate degree at Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, her master’s degree in school leadership from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., and her doctoral degree in organizational change and school leadership from Roosevelt University, Chicago. She began her career as a middle school and then high school math teacher, then became an assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. She also was a Rising Star trainer and School Improvement Grants Reviewer for ISBE. Dr. Lyke is a member of myriad educational organizations, including: the Women’s Network of School Administrators; the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development; the Illinois Association of School Administrators; the Illinois Principals Association and the National Staff Development Council. She also is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and Jack and Jill of America Incorporated.

​During her first year as an elementary school teacher, Illinois CSI deputy director Kelly A. Gilbert, Ed.D., jumped into school improvement feet first by joining the accreditation committee. There and in subsequent school improvement-related roles, Dr. Gilbert learned the value of data in driving positive change, a cornerstone of the process Illinois CSI employs to help struggling schools transform themselves. Dr. Gilbert oversees Illinois CSI district services to ensure they are helping leaders of struggling schools transform their systems and ultimately raise student performance. In this role she leads field operations by managing Illinois CSI’s cadre of assistant directors and their teams of more than 75 staff dispersed across the state and ensures the services provided to the districts deliver what they promise. She is dedicated to creating a culture defined by high expectations and shaped by leaders who motivate and inspire students to achieve. Dr. Gilbert’s 17 years of experience in education include service as an elementary teacher, assistant principal, principal and administrator. For seven years she led A. Vito Martinez Middle School in Romeoville, Ill., and in 2007 was named Principal of the Year by Romeoville Youth Coalition. She moved on within Valley View School District 365U in to become the director of data, assessment, grants and accountability, where she led the development of the district’s strategic plan. Under Dr. Gilbert’s leadership, the district implemented data-based decision making, which facilitated evaluation of the effectiveness of district programs and led to the modification of those programs and the launching of new programs to meet the needs of students and teachers. Dr. Gilbert earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., a master’s degree in education administration from St. Xavier University, Chicago and her doctoral degree in educational leadership from Argosy University, Schaumburg, Ill. She is a member of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Illinois Principals Association, the National Association of Professional Women and the Argosy University Institutional Review Board Committee.

Her early career as a school librarian – today she’d be called a media specialist – helped pave the way for the work Patti Furlano now does as associate director for instructional design and professional development at Illinois CSI. It’s a perfect fit. Illinois CSI uses a research-driven approach to help school leaders take a close look at their practices, programs and structures to take ownership of what needs to be done and help bolster student achievement. In working with struggling Illinois schools, she emphasizes, “we’re not there to fix them, we are there to support them.” One of the original members of the Illinois CSI team, Furlano led the creation of the internal development processes used to help ensure that Illinois CSI staff members are skilled at the highest levels, fully trained and knowledgeable as they lead districts through the process of transformation. Her passion to foster a collaborative and highly innovative environment – one that supports individual and team learning – benefits the staff and the districts with which they work. Furlano has spent nearly 20 years as a district educational leader in Illinois’ Will, Grundy and Kendall counties, including as a regional coordinator with the Professional Development Alliance and then director of Learning Technology Center One South. She’s helped design and deliver successful programs at all levels, from local and regional, to state and national. A published author of several articles on educational change and creating and sustaining a climate and culture of high achievement, Furlano earned her Bachelors from Governor's State University. MS in Instructional Technology from Northern Illinois University. She is a graduate of the National Staff Development Council (Learning Forward) Academy XII. She also holds certification in creative training techniques, advanced instructional design and training evaluation from the International training organization Bob Pike Group. Other certifications include: instructional design from Langevin Learning Services and advance facilitation and facilitative leadership from Interaction Associates.

In her 27 years as a teacher, Ardella Perry-Osler insists she learned as much from her elementary and high school students as they did from her. She credits them with helping her become an effective teacher and educator, lessons she applies every day as associate director of district resources at the Illinois Center for School Improvement (Illinois CSI). In that role, Perry-Osler oversees the delivery of Illinois CSI expertise and resources to support district leaders in driving district-level improvements –providing guidance on organizational leadership, data systems, curriculum and instruction and assessment. During her career at Illinois CSI, Perry-Osler has also supervised the work of district assistance teams and coaches to first help districts develop strategies for improvement and then coach them through implementation of those plans. The focus of her work has consistently been on ultimately helping drive higher student achievement. Perry-Osler has more than 40 years of experience as an educator. In 2000, she transitioned from the classroom and joined the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) as an educator-in-residence with the Illinois System of Support (now the Statewide System of Support, SSoS). In 2003 she was named an SSoS coordinator and put in charge of building and leading a regional team to provide technical assistance to schools and districts identified by the ISBE. Additionally, Perry-Osler managed and monitored the SSoS budget for the six regional offices of education in central Illinois. Perry-Osler earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, a master’s degree in educational administration from Governors State University, and a master’s degree in multi-categorical special education also from Governors State University. She is a certified education trainer in multiple subjects and enjoys presenting workshops related to creating positive classroom environments. Perry-Osler has contributed to several religious periodicals and is the author of “Learning to Love Olivia: A Daughter’s Journey of Her Mother’s Journey through Alzheimer’s,” published in 2012. Ever the student and teacher at heart, she relishes learning and continuing to share those lessons with others. Perry-Osler lives in Hopkins Park, Ill., with her husband.

Taught as a child that failure is not an option, Whimper focuses her drive on working to ensure that vulnerable children and youth have an equal chance at an excellent education. Whimper’s passion has driven her to make significant contributions in education focusing on strategic planning and systems development. As senior performance management officer at Illinois Center for School Improvement (Illinois CSI), she leads the design and implementation of the performance management system, which tracks and assesses the impact of Illinois CSI’s in offering Statewide System of Support (SSoS) services in school districts throughout the state. In this role she analyzes, diagnoses and recommends solutions and supportive interventions to Illinois CSI staff as they assist struggling school districts and collaborate with school district leaders, teachers, community members and other stakeholders to assess the overall effectiveness of school improvement services. Prior to joining Illinois CSI, Whimper served as a strategic consultant for Chicago Public Schools (CPS). She assisted senior leadership with CPS’s five-year action plan, which included support for continuous improvement processes and implementation of an effective performance management process that required data-informed decision making to improve student achievement. Whimper was instrumental in collaborating with senior leadership in the development and implementation of an automated Early Warning System for CPS students in grades 3 through 12 to identify when students need additional support to successfully complete school and advance. She has presented information about this groundbreaking system at national conferences and has provided input for a national best practices publication “On Track for Success” (Civic Enterprises, 2011), which directs school districts nationwide in the development and implementation of their own early warning systems. Whimper has made significant contributions in research by publishing her insights in peer-reviewed journal articles focusing on children and youth who have experienced or been exposed to violence. Whimper earned a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology from Loyola University Chicago, a master’s degree in human service administration from Concordia University Chicago, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in research methodology from Loyola University Chicago. She is an advisory board member for UCAN, a Chicago-based non-profit dedicated to serving youth who have suffered from trauma. She lives in Chicago, Ill. ​​

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