6/30/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: A Very Special Employee Bright Spot

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Good Morning, IDHS Staff:

As generations before have taught us, retirement is a wonderful gift for those who have fulfilling and successful careers. For Dr. Serena Preston, we know that there are great days ahead.

Dr. Preston had been involved in the education and advocacy of students who are blind or visually impaired for more than 20 years, first joining us in 1997 as a classroom teacher at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (ISVI). Today, as Superintendent, Dr. Preston has transformed educational opportunities for the community by developing exemplary instructional strategies and classroom management approaches, curriculum development, and sequencing aligning to common core standards. In addition to leading ISVI as Superintendent since 2012, Dr. Preston also served as the Interim Superintendent at the Illinois School for the Deaf from 2015-2017. By all accounts, Dr. Preston is a true visionary and advocate for students with disabilities.

Dr. Preston's commitment to students extends beyond ISVI, and even Illinois. Her experiences and background have been instrumental for organizations such as the Council of Schools and Services for the Blind, American Printing House for the Blind, MacMurray College, and the Advisory Council on the Education of Children with Disabilities. Her expertise was recently recognized by her peers in the Illinois Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Organization as the recipient of the Illinois Distinguished Service Award.

As Dr. Preston transitions to retirement on June 30th, she will have more time to spend with her family and the Jacksonville community. Her husband Tim, two children, and five grandchildren will be by her side for the new experiences to come. As a community member, Dr. Preston will be able to continue her advocacy work for children through 4-H, where she has served in many volunteer roles, including Project Leader and County Fair Show Superintendent.

Dr. Preston, thank you for your tireless dedication to advocate and lead on behalf of those who often lack access to resources to reach their full potential. Across the Illinois Department of Human Services, you will be greatly missed.

We wish you all the best in your next adventures.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS