Ray Elementary introduces 13 candidates for principal in dramatic new approach

Left to right: William H. Ray Elementary School parent local school council members Chris Allen, Sarah Ogeto, Sylvia Ellis, Jennifer Wejman and Cynthia Horth listen and take notes during the principal candidates forum at the school, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., last Thursday evening. -Marc Monaghan
Left to right: William H. Ray Elementary School parent local school council members Chris Allen, Sarah Ogeto, Sylvia Ellis, Jennifer Wejman and Cynthia Horth listen and take notes during the principal candidates forum at the school, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., last Thursday evening.

-Marc Monaghan

 

By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

Keeping with its goal to have a transparent principal selection process, the Ray Elementary School local school council held an unprecedented principal candidate forum Thursday evening. All of the candidates interested in the school were invited to the forum to speak to the Ray community.

“We’ve been working since July to [restructure] the process,” said Denise Hill, chairwoman of the Ray local school council (LSC). “We want to make sure that the community is included in this process.”

Hill said the LSC will continue to have its open meetings at 6:15 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays to discuss each step in the process until a new principal is selected.

“We have a tentative timeline in place for discussion and narrowing down the list of candidates,” Hill said.

The LSC also passed out feedback forms that Hill said the council will refer to when they meet during closed sessions.

The previous local school council (LSC) at Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., was unable to make a final decision on a principal candidate last school year and voted to leave the decision up to the new LSC. The current LSC, which has all new members, except for community member Don Willard and teacher member Gabriel Sheridan, decided to restart the search using a new approach doing away with a principal selection/screening committee and opening up more of the decision-making process to the community.

About 20 candidates applied for the re-opened principal position at Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., but several of them took other positions, leaving the final 13 candidates who each gave a three-minute speech about their desire to be the next leader of the school.

Megan Thole, acting assistant principal at Ray, joined the running for the permanent position. Lisa Dallacqua, assistant principal at Inter-American Magnet School, was one of the finalists in the previous LSC ‘s principal election and has returned as a candidate.

Other principal candidates include Marcus Alexander, assistant principal at Wentworth Elementary School; Alaric Blair, principal resident; Zipporah Gwin, assistant principal at Thorp Elementary School; Michael Hinton; Turon Ivy, principal Ames Middle School; Afina Lockhart, principal Hirsch high School; Lynnette Love; Ketesha Melendez, assistant principal Attucks Elementary School (now closed); Claudia Ortiz; Vanessa Perry and Venus Shannon, principal at Trumbull Elementary School.

d.phillips@hpherald.com