"I am proud to be home," Burns said after the Local School Council approved the Beverly resident for the job.
Burns has served as assistant principal at nearby Alice L. Barnard Elementary School for the last four years. In her tenure there, the school at 10354 S. Charles St. went from probationary status to achieving Chicago Public Schools' second-highest rating.
Council Chairman Jimmie Ambrose noted this improvement in a statement he read to those gathered Thursday in Sutherland's auditorium. He also said that Burns created an outreach program that boosted Barnard's neighborhood enrollment by 30 percent.
Laurie Cleary was one of the seven council members present who voted to give Burns a four-year contract. She hopes Burns will have similar success attracting neighborhood students back to Sutherland. Cleary said students have been leaving the school for the last seven or eight years.
Burns "has a really solid instructional background. She has so much charisma, and she loves the school," Cleary said Thursday.
The job became available July 19 after former Sutherland Principal Eric Steinmiller abruptly resigned with a year left on his contract. Interim Principal David Gilligan stepped into the job Aug. 7. Burns is expected to take over within the next two weeks.
Ambrose went on to thank those who sent emails and made public comments throughout the principal selection process. He said such input helped frame the process and typically mirrored the concerns of council members.
The council met almost every week for the past two months in an effort to choose a principal. And while some requested a forum be held ahead of a decision, Ambrose said the effort would have been pointless as Burns was the clear favorite.
"As we reviewed resumes, conducted interviews and checked references, one candidate emerged from the pool of applicants to consistently outshine the others," said Ambrose, who also noted Burns' prowess at fundraising as well as integrating technology into Barnard's curriculum.
The new principal will have to hire a clerk, counselor and assistant principal. Burns said it was a difficult decision to leave Barnard to take the top job at the school where her now 24-year-old twins attended. Still, it seemed like a good fit.
"Sutherland is the place where my children were educated and where I became inspired to become a teacher," said Burns, whose initial jobs in education including teaching science and later fifth grade.
Burns will be formally introduced at the next council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the school. A brief reception will follow.