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Lexi Oreluk: Rising Rapidly Through the Ranks

by Tom Hanlon / Jul 30, 2019

Lexi Oreluk Lead

Within four years of earning her undergraduate degree in Special Education from the University of Illinois, Lexi (Alexandra) Oreluk made the move into administration.

Note: This article is one in a series the College of Education is running on alumni who have quickly ascended the ranks of educational leadership and made a big impact on students in the process.

Lexi Oreluk always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“I solidified that idea when I took part in an Invitation to Teach program in high school,” says Oreluk, now assistant principal at John Mills Elementary School in Elmwood Park, Illinois. She spent two periods four days a week co-teaching special education students in eighth grade.

“It was an awesome experience,” she says. “I knew going in to the University of Illinois that I wanted to go into Special Ed.”

Oreluk loved her time in the College of Education, including the fact that her Department of Special Education class cohort numbered about 25. “When I investigated the College, I got this feeling of a small college experience, and that was super attractive,” she says. “I knew I would get individualized attention and the professors would know my name.”

She got that attention, and much more.

“In special education, they prepared us for everything,” Oreluk recalls. “There is a range of things you can do as a special ed teacher, and we were prepared for any direction we wanted to go. And the classes were super functional. We learned so many things we could incorporate into our daily practices.”

Oreluk graduated in 2013 from Illinois and taught for four years in a Hickory Hills, Illinois, junior high school. At the end of her second year, she says, she experienced a shift in mindset.

“On a daily basis I was teaching about 90 kids,” she explains. “I wanted to be able to positively impact more students. The best way I could do that was to go into administration and coach teachers.”

She returned to school to earn her master’s degree and administrative certificate. Because the junior high she worked at had a significant population of English Language Learners (ELL), she also earned her ELL certificate.

Only four years removed from her undergraduate degree at Illinois, Oreluk landed the first assistant principal position she applied for, at Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankfort, Illinois. Her job at John Mills Elementary School, which begins this fall, is her second assistant principal position.

“The move into administration was definitely a shift, but I love it,” she says. “I love coaching and mentoring the teachers, and I also try to get into the classroom as much as possible.”

She has had good mentors all along the way, and she believes in the power of mentorship. “I think every teacher should have a mentor, and every administrator should have a mentor,” she says. “It’s okay to ask for help. I’m super grateful for my mentors.”

Oreluk has risen rapidly through the ranks, and she has done so, she says, because of the solid foundation she received from the College of Education.

“I can’t speak strongly enough about how great an experience I had at the College,” she says. “I had amazing professors who were so experienced and who just wanted us to be the best we could be. They really cared about us and wanted us to do well.”