Meet Payton’s Principal Candidates

By: Bridget Galibois, Megha Khemka and Vivian Kaleta

Payton’s three candidates for the position of principal: Mr. Kuzma (current Assistant Principal at Taft High School), Dr. Shabazz-Anderson (current Interim Principal at Walter Payton College Prep), and Mr. Stucky (current Assistant Principal at Lincoln Park High School). Photo from the Payton Pulse sent out by Interim Principal Shabazz-Anderson on April 26, 2022.

Mr. Adam Stucky: Coming from Lincoln Park Prioritizing Advocacy


Mr. Stucky has held the position of Assistant Principal at Lincoln Park High School since June 2020. As Assistant Principal, Stucky primarily serves to create a positive climate and culture within the school, strengthen the instructional core, and increase equity and educational outcomes for all students. 

Previous to this position, Stucky worked in various teaching and leadership positions including Manager for Teacher Leader Development and Innovation at CPS’s Office of Teaching and Learning. 


At Lincoln Park, Stucky developed an Instructional Leadership Team intended to cultivate high-quality instruction for all students. He oversaw department chairs and co-designed a learning plan with a focus on equity. Stucky also focused on constructing systems for freshmen to ensure social-emotional well-being and academic success. In addition, Stucky regularly engaged with the school’s Student Voice committee to address their concerns. 

Stucky believes that his experience along with his capabilities to work with all involved parties fits Payton’s needs. Within Stucky’s qualifications, he also lists his advocacy for students and his “institutional knowledge to leverage existing systems of support to create improved systems.”

He believes in “the power of urban, public education” and he is committed to “personal reflection and continuous learning around equity and leading justly.”

What would they bring to Payton?

Based on all of the background information provided by Stucky, it seems that he has much experience in administering specific groups and teams that are long-lasting. Within Payton’s own community, there have been instances where initiatives and new systems fail to stick. Stucky’s experience with building successful teams and groups could serve as a strength he could bring to Payton. 

Mr. Daniel Kuzma: Focusing on Rigor at Taft High School


Mr. Kuzma has held the position of Assistant Principal at Taft High School since 2019. As Assistant Principal, Kuzma focuses on expanding opportunities and reframing student supports. He also focused on curriculum rigor (specifically within AP, Dual Credit, IB, and Honors programs), reframing post-secondary supports and improving family outreach within Taft. 


Prior to this position, Kuzma worked in various teaching positions and a dean position. Kuzma believes that “promoting academic excellence while prioritizing student social-emotional health” is based on principles within Payton. These principles include adopting a growth mindset and equaling student support development to instruction development.

While at Taft, Kuzma says he takes a 3 question approach when working on equity: “Who is this working for? Who is this not working for? What is our plan to make Taft work for those it is not working for?” In his statements, Kuzma is enthusiastic about bringing these questions to Payton.

What would they bring to Payton?

Based on all of the background information provided by Kuzma, it seems that he has experience in closing the opportunity gap within academics. Within Payton’s own community, statistics show that there are less racial minority groups enrolled in AP classes. Kuzma’s experience could help to close Payton’s own gap, improving the overall academic performance of the school. 

Dr. Fareeda Shabazz-Anderson: Current Interim Principal at Payton


Dr. Shabazz-Anderson is the current Interim Principal at Walter Payton College Prep. Before she came to Payton, Shabazz-Anderson worked in various principal-like positions, and was a founding principal of RTC Medical Preparatory Magnet High School. 


During her experience of being a founding principal at RTC Medical High School, one of Shabazz-Anderson’s focuses was “establishing key partnerships with industry leaders and external stakeholders such as universities, colleges, and medical facilities.” Through these partnerships, Shabazz-Anderson secured  “$13M annually in scholarships for seniors” and “paid internships”. She has also served on district communities as well as the Chicago Public School’s Principal Advisory Council. If Shabazz-Anderson continues to be at Payton, she will “work to create a community that celebrates success and encourages rest and self-care.” She believes that Payton “must cultivate communities of acceptance and grace that teaches students how to create balance and develop healthy habits that they can use as adults.” 

What would they bring to Payton?

It can be inferred that Shabazz-Anderson’s greatest strength is that she is already familiar with the Payton community. Through her time at Payton, she has already been exposed to issues that need to be improved to guarantee a healthy academic environment. Aside from this, in accordance with Shabazz-Anderson’s background information, she has unique experiences in providing opportunities for students outside of the school setting through her relationship building. If such relationships are implemented at Payton, it would greatly benefit those seeking enriching opportunities not easily accessible to them and extra support for college funding.

Checking the Data: Using the 5Essential Survey to Compare Principal Candidates

Chicago Public Schools and UChicago Impact partner to administer the 5Essentials Survey to students and teachers each year in CPS. The Paw Print identified four areas to compare between principal candidates based on their work prior to Payton: Supportive Environment, Overall Effective Leadership, Program Coherence, and Teacher-Principal Trust. Lincoln Park, where Mr. Stucky is Assistant Principal, did not have sufficient responses for three of the categories, but there was adequate data from Crane for Dr. Shabazz-Anderson and from Taft for Mr. Kuzma.

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