This is part of a continuing series of Q&A interviews with the people of Amundsen and Lake View high schools.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your career so far? What college did you attend? What did you study? Why did you choose to work in K-12 education? What is your role at Amundsen?
A: So I started in CPS in 2004, I believe it was, shortly after getting out of the Marines. After several years, I made the decision to enroll in college to become a teacher. I started off at City Colleges of Chicago, then transferred to Northeastern where I went into a non-traditional degree program, because they credited me for my military service. This changed my teaching trajectory, as I ended up becoming a dean of discipline for a high school in the neighborhood I grew up in. I was there for a year before being asked to transition to Amundsen to become dean here. I managed to obtain my Masters in Educational Leadership online while here at Amundsen, and I am still working as Dean of Students while also now serving as the Athletic Director for three years. This is my sixth year here at Amundsen.
Q: Do you sponsor or coach any clubs or sports? If so, please share a recent highlight.
A: While I don't coach any sports currently, I did coach girls bowling last school year. It was a great experience for me. The girls went undefeated for the season, won conference champs, and I was actually given a Coach of the Year award that season. I also was the Sociology Club sponsor for two years. This was also a great experience, as I was able to work with some amazing students that were very socially aware and wanted others to be as well. It was very enlightening.
Q: What do you like best about working at Amundsen? What are Amundsen's greatest strengths?
A: I really enjoy the work I do. I feel as though my life's experiences have really allowed me to connect with students in ways that others are not always able to. The relationships that are established here at Amundsen are something that I feel is unique. Our staff as a whole is very nurturing and caring, allowing for students to feel connected and comfortable speaking to an adult about any issue. This is definitely something that I never had in my high school experience, and what I feel may be our biggest strength. We have an amazing school in so many ways, but when you have the supportive environment we have here, it really makes for a great high school experience for the kids and a great working environment for the adults. There is just so much to do here – so much to get involved in and be a part of. There is something for everyone. It's great.
Q: Can you describe one particularly great moment you've had at Amundsen?
A; We have come a long way here at Amundsen. Six and a half years ago, when I arrived here, this was a school that had been on probation for many years. Things have definitely turned around, to where we are now a Level 1+ school. That is amazing and perhaps the greatest moment for me at this school. It was validation of the hard work and dedication that our staff and students had been working towards. We knew we were always great and had a great environment for teachers to teach and students to learn, but now we had the recognition for it.
In my pitch to prospective parents and students over the years, I would always say, "We are a hidden gem here...a diamond in the rough." We are no longer either. We are confident in what we have built here, and we are still working tirelessly on how we could make things even better.