Matthew Zediker, M.S.Ed. '08, Ed.S. '22, Brings 21 Years of Experience as Yorkville's New Superintendent 
By Lia Kizilbash Gillet

Matthew Zediker, M.S.Ed. ’08, Ed.S. ’22, will be the next superintendent of Yorkville School District.
(Photo credit: Kim Pederson/Rockford Public Schools)

Raised in tight-knit Iowa communities, Matthew Zediker, M.S.Ed. ’08, Ed.S. ’22, grew up wanting to emulate his father who was a teacher and coach. Zediker saw the positive impact his father had on his students and community.

Today, with a master’s degree, superintendent certification, and expected doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies (May ’24) from NIU, Zediker will be the next superintendent of Yorkville School District in Yorkville, Illinois, beginning July 1.

“I grew up on a farm in a small Iowa town of about 700 people,” shared Zediker. “In middle school, I moved to Sioux City, Iowa, and was a sports kid, constantly outside with friends playing whatever sport or game that was going on.”

Zediker firmly believes his upbringing contributed to his overall success. He credits his parents for instilling strong values and being exemplary role models.

“My parents shaped my values and ethics as a young person, and it profoundly impacts how I live my professional and personal life," Zediker reflected. "I watched my dad approach life with deep respect for others. He treated everyone equally, regardless of circumstance, status, or title. I try to emulate this in my life.”

Zediker’s aspirations to be a teacher and a coach were consistent, but his path to getting there wasn’t so clear. He started college at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, to pursue a baseball career. Quickly recognizing that his college athletic desire and commitment were not strong enough, he transferred to Western Iowa Tech Community College to finish his freshman year. Zediker transferred to the University of Iowa his sophomore year and earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education. 

After graduating, he taught in a combined fifth- and sixth-grade classroom in Iowa City, Iowa, piloting the experiment of combining the two grades.

"It was challenging in the sense that I had students at various stages, both mentally and physically," Zediker said. "So, I had to learn how to differentiate teaching to various students. The great thing was that the fifth graders stayed with me the following year and became leaders as sixth graders, and it felt like a big family."

Zediker's coaching career began in Iowa City at West High School, where he was an assistant football coach winning two state championships. Fortunate to work with "an amazing coaching staff and people," he learned what it took to care for student-athletes, push them and hold them accountable. He took those lessons to Rockford in 2003 when he moved to coach at Auburn High School for two years and then Guilford High School for three. While working as a Rockford substitute teacher, Zediker started to think about a master’s degree. 

“A colleague suggested that I consider NIU,” Zediker recalled. “After evaluating the program, combined with the competitive cost and the ease of the satellite location in Rockford, I took the positive referral to heart and decided on NIU.”

After earning his master’s in educational leadership, he moved into an assistant principal role at West Middle School and then Guilford High School in Rockford. He served as principal of Gregory Elementary, also in Rockford, for four and a half years before stepping into the role of executive director of Rockford elementary schools. Culminating his 21-yearlong Rockford School District career, Zediker served his final eight years as chief human resources officer of Rockford Public Schools. 

“NIU made it easy for me to pursue my advanced degrees while working,” Zediker said. “The relationships I developed with my fellow students throughout the doctoral process, even though we were the first cohort to be completely remote, created bonds that will last. My professors were wonderful; NIU should feel proud of the quality of faculty they have supporting students through their journey. Dr. Kelly Summers is one of them. She guided, supported, and challenged me through my dissertation process. I know that in Kelly, I have a colleague and friend for life.”

In addition to his father, coach Reese Morgan influenced Zediker’s leadership style, values and ethics.

"Reese Morgan was another very influential person for me," Zediker shared. "He was the first head coach I ever worked under, and he had an innate ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the room, even if there were hundreds. His authenticity and genuine interest in people amaze me to this day. Reese went on to be a very successful assistant football coach at the University of Iowa for many years, but you would never know that speaking with him. Reese’s humility is a characteristic that impresses me to this day and has impacted my leadership approach.”

Zediker is excited about the next chapter in his professional career and about joining the Yorkville community. 

“I am honored to be able to serve as superintendent of Yorkville School District 115 and contribute to the growth of its students, district staff and the overall community,” commented Zediker. “I do not take this responsibility lightly. Yorkville is a growing community that values education and the close relationships a smaller community offers. With recent changes in district leadership, I am looking to support the board and the community, strengthening the relationships with, and the trust in the district. Having the opportunity to contribute to its growth and culture is one of the main reasons I applied for this role.”

Zediker says school districts can continue to advocate for education and spread positivity. He says that often only the imperfections and problems within a school or district are pointed out, and “this rhetoric then has a ripple effect causing smart, talented individuals to shy away from a profession in teaching.” He hopes that by modeling genuine passion and enthusiasm, coupled with dedication and hard work, contagious energy will ignite within others to work together toward continuous improvement.

“I want to leave every situation better than I found it,” he said. “If our students and families feel like students are prepared for life after leaving Yorkville schools, then we are doing our jobs. If professionals come to work where there are high expectations but feel supported and inspired to meet those expectations, then we are doing our jobs. If a team culture is created to work towards the betterment of students, staff, and families, then we are doing our jobs. We are all part of something bigger than ourselves, working toward a common goal. It’s an exciting time to be a Yorkville Fox!”