“Under the Monocle” with Erin DeLuga, York’s new principal


Photo by staff photographer

Mrs. DeLuga greets freshmen at barbecue in Learning Commons.

When Mrs. Erin DeLuga saw the job posting for York’s principal back in December of 2015, she knew it was an exciting opportunity she had to pursue.

“When the posting for York came up and Ms. Smith was retiring, I saw this posting, and having been a runner as a youngster, I’ve always known about York–my entire life really, since I was 14-years-old — and thought, ‘Wow what an incredible school,’” Mrs. Deluga said. “I decided I needed to give it a shot.”

Mrs. DeLuga went through several rounds of interviews with a variety of stakeholders, including the administrative team, teachers, staff, students, community members.

During the entire interview process, she had a good feeling.

“It was one of those feelings where you know when you’re in a room, when you’ve been put in a situation whether it feels good or if it doesn’t,” DeLuga said. “And it felt awesome.”

As she walked to her car after the final interview, she thought, “‘Well I learned a ton about myself if the offer doesn’t happen, but if the offer does happen, I know I made the right decision.”

The York Community had a good feeling as well, and Mrs. DeLuga officially began her tenure as York’s new principal on July 1.    

Mrs. DeLuga comes to York during a time of great change, but she brings with her a wealth of rich and varied life experiences and an unbridled energy that will carry her and the York community through this transition year.


As a child of the Raftery family in Park Forest, a south suburb of Chicago, Mrs. DeLuga was raised by her two caring parents. Prior to their marriage, her father Michael Raftery was a Christian brother and her mother Ginny Raftery was a nun. They both left their respective orders to start a large family of five children, two of them being Mrs. Erin Raftery DeLuga and her identical twin, Maureen Raftery Kelly.

When they were younger, the Raftery twins enjoyed fooling people with their similar appearance.

“Every now and then we’ve been able to trick people, so we do look exactly alike except that her hair is much blonder than mine by choice of her own,” Mrs. DeLuga said.

Mrs. Deluga catches up with her twin, Maureen Kelly, at a family party.
Photo courtesy of Erin DeLuga
Mrs. Deluga catches up with her twin, Maureen Kelly, at a family party.

While growing up, Mrs. DeLuga was inspired by her father, who at age 72 still teaches a full load of AP English Lit classes at Marion Catholic High School in Chicago Heights. She says he has had a great impact on the person she is today.

“My dad is an avid reader, and so he literally forced us to read all summer from the age of four on,” Mrs. Deluga said. “We had a reading program that he made the five of us do, but you would think that maybe would shut you off from reading–all five of us are passionate about it. He was definitely my role model growing up about what I wanted to do or what I thought I wanted to do.”

In addition to the obvious influence on Mrs. DeLuga’s career as an educator, which began as an English teacher, her father also inspired her athletic interests.

“I always felt like I really want to impress him growing up. And so that can be good or bad,” Mrs. DeLuga said. “But there was something that I found inspiring about him as a person and as my father. And so I started jogging with him when I was like 5th grade, 6th grade.”

This love of running followed her to Rich East High School in Park Forest, where Mrs. DeLuga participated in several sports.

“I ran cross country and track, and I did dabble in soccer and basketball a little bit,” she said.

Her father also got her involved in music. In fact, music was huge in the Raftery family.

“We were literally the Von Trapp family [of the “The Sound of Music”] running around singing when we were kids,” Mrs. Deluga joked. “My parents would like throw us in a field and we would sing.”

These early experiences had a great impact on the the Raftery siblings, who became involved in musical theater as well. In fact Mrs.DeLuga’s brother, Matthew Raftery, is a professional actor, choreographer and director in the Chicago area. He recently starred in “White Christmas” at Drury Lane in Oak Brook.

Mrs. DeLuga shared in this love of musical theater and performed in several shows at Rich East and at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she attended college.

“When I was a senior [in high school] I played Liesl in ‘The Sound of Music’,” Mrs. DeLuga said. “That was really fun. We had a great cast, and I developed a lot of close friends there. I was in Music Man. I loved that. I played in some musicals in college. . . Three Penny Opera. That was exciting. I was the second lead for that in Champaign.”

The Rafferty clan all together for a family party . (Left to Right -- Michael (father), Ginny Raftery, Matthew Raftery, Anne Raftery (younger sister), , Danny Raftery (younger brother), Leo (Anne’s husband), Bernie Yvon (Matthew’s partner), Scott De:iga
Photo courtesy of Erin DeLuga
The Raftery clan all together for a family party . (Left to Right — Michael (father), Ginny (mother), Matthew (older brother), Anne (younger sister), , Danny  (younger brother), Leo (Anne’s husband), Bernie Yvon (Matthew’s partner), Scott DeLuga (husband).

College and career

At University of Illinois, Mrs. DeLuga majored in English and minored in pre-law. She also played rugby. She still enjoyed running, but contact sports like rugby gave her the ability to push her boundaries as much as she could.

“It was a really exciting and unique experience because having been a runner my whole life, full body contact was a new and exciting endeavor for me,” Mrs. DeLuga said.

She believes that her experiences in rugby, along with her involvement in other extracurricular activities, shaped her into the person she is today.

“That kind of built into who I am, I think, as a person, with my own sense of discipline, work ethic, determination,” Mrs. DeLuga said.

Mrs. DeLuga’s improved work ethic and sense of discipline helped her to overcome some tough challenges. While playing rugby, she suffered an injury to her leg. Instead of giving up or quitting the sport, she still found a way to participate in a sport she treasured.

“Unfortunately I got really injured playing rugby,” Mrs. DeLuga said. “[I] ended up being their conditioning coach when I was healing with an ACL/MCL tear. Everything in my left leg pretty was pretty much torn.”

During her college years, Mrs. DeLuga spent her summers working as a lifeguard and assistant aquatics manager for the Park Forest Park District,, a job that eventually led to her passion for teaching and working to improve the lives of young people.

She originally planned to be a lawyer and then later on work with the FBI. But, like so many college graduates, she grappled with decisions about which careers within her major would be most satisfying.

“I really did think I was gonna go to law school and eventually become a lawyer, but then I became very jaded about that,” Mrs. DeLuga said. “My senior year of college I thought, ‘I don’t know if this is really my path, and I don’t really know my path’. And that was hard to graduate from college and not really have something secured for your future.”

During the summer after she graduated, Mrs. DeLuga took some time to reflect and build on her many, varied interests. She even explored a slightly different career path in law enforcement.

“I changed routes and decided I was going to go into the police academy, so I did do some sniper rifle training and K9 training with Park Forest Police Department,” Mrs. DeLuga said. “[That] can really scare people when they hear that about me, but I did enjoy it.”

During that summer she continued her job as assistant aquatics manager of the Park Forest Park District, which helped her realize how much she enjoyed working with young people.

“I got to work with kids from the ages of 17 on, and I thought ‘I really wanna work with teenagers and teach them,” Mrs. DeLuga said.

That same summer Mrs. DeLuga’s father informed her that the school where he teaches, Marian Catholic, posted an opening for an English teacher. She interviewed and accepted a position.

“[My dad] was actually my boss for four years, which was really weird, and fun,” Mrs. DeLuga said.

Once Mrs. DeLuga got a taste of the classroom, she was hooked.

“I never ever looked back,” she said. “I love, I absolutely love teaching.”

Throughout her teaching career, Mrs. DeLuga also coached speech team, girls basketball and girls track.

Eventually her career expanded beyond the classroom, and she took the plunge into administration when she accepted a position as leader of the English/Fine Arts Division at Prospect High School, which she held from 2007 to 2011. Since then, one of her biggest challenges has been not directly teaching students in the classroom.

“I still grieve that about leaving the classroom, and that’s why I try to get back in the classroom as often as I do in my career because it’s just the most valuable part — it’s keeping teaching and the spirit of  teaching students close,” she said.

When Mrs. DeLuga was Associate Principal of Instruction at Wheeling (her most recent position), she would go into various classrooms to “guest teach and co-teach,” allowing her to “stay close to the classroom.”

At Wheeling, Mrs. DeLuga also led the STEM program, which encourages an applied approach to science, technology, engineering and math curricula, and serves as a member of the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools.

¨[I] was elected to the national board,” Mrs. DeLuga said. “There’s twenty of us from all around the country that meet four times a year, and we talk about programming in STEM . . .  the all inclusive nature of research, critical thinking and STEM opportunities for students.”

Life beyond school

When she’s not at school, Mrs. DeLuga is busy with her own family. She lives in Palatine with her husband Scott, who works as a senior account manager for Discover Financial. They have two girls, Aubrey (7) and Emma (4).

Parenthood has provided Mrs. DeLuga with clear insight into the joys and challenges of educating children from a parent’s perspective.

“I have experienced firsthand some of what the parents go through and kids with special needs go through,” Mrs. DeLuga said, referring to her daughter Emma, who was born with Down’s Syndrome.

Aubrey (age7) and Emma (age 4), Mrs. Deluga's daughters, keep her busy when she's not at York.
Photo courtesy of Erin DeLuga
Aubrey (age7) and Emma (age 4), Mrs. Deluga’s daughters, keep her busy when she’s not at York.

When she’s not busy running a school or taking care of her family, Mrs. DeLuga still enjoys many of the same activities from her childhood, including the Raftery family favorite–music.

“I don’t listen to one type of music,” she said. “I grew up listening to classical music, so Mozart, Bach, Beethoven. I have a real affinity for classical music in my own personal time. But I also like hip hop and R&B, rap and jazz. I’m all over this place actually. So my play list is expansive–depends on my mood. But that’s music, right?”

She still loves to run, and staying true to her Southside roots, she a Chicago White Sox fan.

“But my husband is a Cubs fan, so we are a house divided,” she said. “I have a picture of the old Comiskey Park hanging in my office that I really love.”

Game on.