By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
The Ray Elementary School local school council (LSC) voted to offer a principal contract to Megan Thole at its meeting Thursday night. The selection concludes a search that extended across two school years and two LSC administrations.
Thole has been one of two assistant principals at Ray since July. She has a total of seven years’ experience in education. Before coming to Ray, Thole served as a resident principal at Skinner North Elementary School. She was also an Advanced Placement Language and composition teacher and English teacher and department chair at the Noble Network of Charter Schools. Prior to that she was the English and literature teacher at Howard Area Leadership Academy. She served with the Teach for America program and was a proposal writer at Pearson Education.
She received her Master of Education in School Leadership from Harvard University, a masters in education from National Louis University and a bachelors in English from the University of Iowa.
Denise Hill, chairwoman of the LSC at Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., said the council chose Thole because of her communication, team building and leadership skills.
“[Thole’s] been there since the start of the school year and we heard from many teachers that she has been a tremendous asset to the building,” Hill said. “She’s a great team leader and they like the team building culture she’s bought to the school; we didn’t want to break the continuity.”
Ray parent Daan Van Rossum, who was on the principal selection committee last school year, said the extended election process was the best thing that could have happened to Ray.
“Last school year half of the school felt strongly about one candidate and half of the school felt strongly for another candidate so no matter who was chosen half the school would have been disappointed,” Van Rossum said. “The new LSC came in with a clean slate, no contentions and actually collaborated to find a new principal.”
Van Rossum said he’s been receiving testimonies from teachers about the “fantastic job” Thole has been doing this school year.
“I spoke to a teacher who was considering retirement but decided to give it one more year,” Van Rossum said. “She said she’s happy she didn’t retire and her happiness is important to me because if you have happy teachers, who are looking forward to a day with the kids, then the kids will benefit from that.”
The previous 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 currently 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. Thole was chosen from 12 candidates who made presentations at the principal selection community forum on Sept. 11.
“The school year is off to a great start,” Thole said at the principal selection community forum on Sept.11. “People are excited to bring Ray back to the way it was. We are focusing on making a positive environment for the kids.”
The LSC will have its next meeting at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23 in the lunchroom. During the meeting Thole and the LSC will share their visions for the future of the school.